High School Sports

Former Navigators find the way to PLU

When embarking on the road to his college football future, Dillon Mark didn’t have to look or travel very far.

The 5-foot-10, 175-pound running back from Northwest Christian wanted to attend a school that fit all his options – academically and athletically.

When it came down to it, the Lutes of Pacific Lutheran University were his No. 1 choice over the University of Puget Sound and Western Washington. The atmosphere was what he wanted, and it was the perfect size.

Overall, it’s the perfect fit for the football player who had a 4.0 gradepoint average throughout high school before graduating last month.

“I went and visited there quite a few times,” Mark said of PLU. “I liked the football team and the Christian attitude.”

Mark is one of 39 student-athletes who have committed to play football for PLU coach Scott Westering this fall. Mark also is one of two Navigators to join the Lutes’ 2009 recruiting class, which features incoming players from Washington, Oregon and Nevada.

The other is his friend and teammate Scott Hallmann. The 6-2, 210-pounder earned first-team all-Pacific 2B League honors as a lineman this past fall for Northwest Christian. Mark and Hallmann are the first Northwest Christian football players to play college football. They were teammates in high school, and they’ll be teammates in college.

“That’s going to be really cool,” said Mark, who plans to major in computer science.

“It’s kind of different, not practicing together like we did in high school.”

As a senior this past fall, Mark was the Navigators’ leading rusher with more than 900 yards and rushed for three touchdowns. His play on the field earned him all-league honors in the Pacific 2B League. He’s one of seven listed running backs in the Lutes’ incoming recruiting class.

The new Lutes will join a team that struggled with inexperience and injuries in 2008, finishing 3-6 overall and 3-3 in the NCAA Division III Northwest Conference.

This fall will mark the 10-year anniversary of the Lutes winning the Division III national title. PLU defeated Rowan University, 42-13, for the 1999 championship.