INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Franklin College senior wide receiver Brad Bonomini has been named the 2018 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) Offensive MVP, and was one of 14 Grizzlies to collect all-conference honors on Wednesday (Nov. 14) afternoon.
Bonomini is coming off a stellar senior season that saw him lead the Grizzlies and the HCAC with 71 catches for 1,224 yards while adding 11 touchdowns, the second most receiving scores in the league. The Lawrenceburg, Ind.-native earned his first career HCAC all-conference award after finishing with six games of more than 100 yards receiving and he currently ranks second in Division III in both catches and receiving yards. It marks the ninth straight season Franklin has secured the league's Offensive MVP award and the first time a non-quarterback has earned the award since 2006.
Bonomini was joined by six other Grizzlies on the first team; quarterback Braden Smith, running back Jacob Earl, wide receiver Ben Fleet, linebacker Austin Fleming and offensive linemen Matt Anderson and Tre Akers.
Earl had a fantastic season as the Grizzlies' feature back, carrying the ball 172 times for 1,072 yards and 14 touchdowns. The Tangier, Ind.-native added 24 grabs for 355 yards, giving him a team-leading 1,446 all-purpose yards on the year. It marks the first career All-HCAC honor for the junior running back.
Fleet finished second on the Grizzlies with 55 grabs for 661 yards and six touchdowns on his way to his first all-conference nod. The Indianapolis, Ind.-native had his best career game on Sept. 29, when he hauled in 10 passes for 235 yards and two scores in a homecoming win over Rose-Hulman. Fleet also collected his first all-conference award in 2018.
Smith finished the year as the league's most prolific passer, completing 64.6 percent of his passes for 3,226 yards and 28 touchdowns while sporting a 165.0 passer efficiency rating to earn his first career all-conference award. The Mattoon, Ill.-native ranks fourth in the nation in passing yards through 10 games and helped guide a Franklin offense that leads Division III in yards per game with 558.3.
Fleming became a two-time First Team All-HCAC selection after anchoring the Franklin defense as the team's starting middle linebacker. The Rensselaer, Ind.-native finished with a team-high 76 tackles, adding 2.5 stops for a loss, three pass break-ups and one interception. His finest performance of the year came against Mount St. Joseph on Oct. 13, when he finished with 14 tackles and his first career interception, netting HCAC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
All three members of the interior offensive line were represented on the all-conference teams with Anderson, Akers and Second Team All-HCAC selection Austin Woiteshek. For all three, it is the first career all-conference recognition.
Prater earned his second consecutive Second Team All-HCAC nod after finishing third on the Grizzlies with 42 tackles, recording three sacks and four stops for a loss. In his final career game, the Bringhurst, Ind.-native recorded a career-best 11 tackles against Hanover last Saturday.
Reed joins his interior defensive linemate Prater on the second team for the second year in a row. The senior from Indianapolis finished the year with 24 tackles, recording one sack, three tackles for a loss and one fumble recovery.
Bryce Hale earned his first career all-conference honor in his first year as one of the team's starting defensive ends. The Mooresville, Ind.-native recorded 35 tackles, finishing with a team-high eight stops for a loss and 3.5 sacks, which tied with Dante Darden for the team lead. Hale added a pair of forced fumbles and fumble recoveries to go with two pass break-ups.
Grunden also collected his first career all-conference award following a junior campaign that saw him total 315 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground while catching six passes for 92 yards and a score. The North Vernon, Ind.-native combined with Earl to form a powerful one-two punch out of the backfield, leading a Franklin ground game that led the HCAC with 2,251 rushing yards in 2018.
Senior linebacker Logan Hale was one of two Grizzlies named to the league's honorable mention team. The Mooresville, Ind.-native finished second on the team with 48 tackles this year, playing in all 10 games at outside linebacker. Hale averaged 4.8 stops per game, recording 1.5 tackles for loss and recovering one fumble.
Finally, junior linebacker Brayton Shannon also earned a spot on the league's honorable mention squad. The Greenfield, Ind.-native finished fourth on the Grizzlies with 38 tackles, earning all-conference accolades for the first time in his career.