Twelve Bulldogs earn all-IEL football awards

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(Photo by JASON DUCHOW) All-IEL selection Christian Niemela intercepts a pass against Lakeland on Oct. 12. Niemela also won all-league awards for his special teams efforts as a kick returner.

A dozen Sandpoint football players earned 4A All-Inland Empire League football team nominations, according to a press release given to the Daily Bee.

Standouts include sophomore linebacker Tag Benefield, who was named Defensive MVP, and junior receiver/defensive back Christian Niemela and Payton Cox, both of whom picked up multiple first-team awards for their efforts on defense and special teams.

Linemen Brandon Casey and Cole Ducken earned all-IEL honors for paving the way for IEL first-team selection Dillan Mitton, whose senior season included a three-touchdown effort against Lakeland. Senior tight end Alex Stockton rounded out Sandpoint’s IEL winners on offense.

Aside from the aforementioned Benefield, the IEL all-defense team was stacked with five Sandpoint players ­— the most nominees by any school.

Although Sandpoint will be without IEL selections Payton Cox (LB) and Riley Anderson (DB), the Bulldogs will build its defense around Benefield, and all-IEL nominees Conner Hutchings (DL), Tyler Lehman (LB) and Niemela (DB) next season.

Sandpoint finished with a 3-7 record under first-year head coach Ryan Knowles.

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