GREENWOOD, Ind. – The Franklin College football team was well-represented on the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) all-conference squads, placing 16 players on either the first or second team. The conference released its list of award winners on Wednesday afternoon.
Senior quarterback Chase Burton collected his third consecutive HCAC Offensive Player of the Year award, marking the fifth straight year a Franklin representative has collected the honor. Burton has been brilliant in his senior season, going 242-for-351 for 3,636 passing yards, 42 touchdowns and a 193.2 passer efficiency rating.
The Corydon, Ind.-native surpassed 300 yards in all 10 contests to date, is tied for the most touchdown passes in the nation, and ranks second nationally in passing yards, passing yards per game (363.6) and efficiency. A four-time HCAC Offensive Player of the Week in 2017, Burton became the first three-time league Offensive Player of the Year in program history.
The other major individual award went to Franklin head coach Mike Leonard, who was named the HCAC Coach of the Year for the seventh time in his career. Leonard guided the Grizzlies to an 8-2 record and their ninth HCAC title in the last 11 seasons. Franklin recorded their eighth perfect HCAC campaign during Leonard's tenure in 2017.
Senior wide receiver Deontez Alexander collected his second consecutive First Team All-HCAC honor. The Indianapolis, Ind.-native has hauled in 50 passes for a league-leading 1,137 yards, and his 18 touchdown catches are the second most among all players in Division III.
Senior running back Jordan Brown collected First Team All-HCAC honors for the first time in his career. Brown led the Grizzlies with 673 yards on 132 carries while rushing for a team-high eight touchdowns.
Three members of the FC offensive line also collected First Team honors. Samm Hayes, Sam Burck and Landon Johnson were critical members of a Franklin offense that led the league in points scored with 50.1 points per game.
Senior wideouts Lee and Tanner Wroblewski earned a spot on the league's second team after a pair of stellar final seasons. Tanner led all FC players with 51 grabs, recording 660 yards and six touchdowns. Twin brother Lee has hauled in 40 balls for 662 yards and nine scores. Lee collected his third career all-conference award while Tanner picked up his second.
Defensively, the Grizzlies placed three players on the first team in defensive backs Trace Rooks and Ryan Conner, along with linebacker Austin Fleming. In his debut campaign with the Grizzlies, Fleming led the team with 84 tackles on the year, racking up 8.4 per game. Additionally, he recorded a pair of tackles for loss, one forced fumble and one pass breakup from the middle linebacker spot.
Conner earned first team honors for the first time and all-conference recognition for the third straight year. The Zionsville, Ind.-native finished with 51 tackles, one fumble recovery, six pass break-ups and a team-high three interceptions. In his first year on the defensive side of the ball, Rooks ranked third on the Grizzlies with 55 stops, recording one sack and a pair of interceptions.
Defensive linemen Zak Prater, Zach Turner and Tyler Reed all collected second team honors for the Grizzlies. Prater helped anchor the Grizzlies' run defense all year, finishing with 26 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for a loss. Reed added 36 stops, 3.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for a loss to earn his first all-conference honor. Turner finished with 32 stops while leading the team with 4.5 sacks and placing second on the Grizzlies with 7.5 tackles for negative yards.
Senior linebacker Nathan Warman also earned a spot on the second team with a stellar senior season. Warman ranks second on the Grizzlies with 58 tackles, racking up 2.5 sacks, recovering one fumble and adding a team-high nine stops for a loss.
The final member of the Grizzlies to collect all-conference honors was senior kicker Stephen Colligan. The Fort Wayne, Ind.-native picked up Second Team All-HCAC honors after going 3-for-6 on field goals and 61-for-63 on extra point attempts in the regular season. His 70 points rank him second on the team behind Alexander. Colligan also averaged 41.8 yards per punt, dropping four punts inside the 20-yard line.
Franklin continues its season this coming Saturday afternoon when they travel to Waverly, Iowa to take on Wartburg College in the opening round of the NCAA Division III playoffs. Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m. eastern time.