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NEWS | Grizzlies Place 14 On HCAC's All-Conference Teams

Photo: Chad Williams
Photo: Chad Williams

CARMEL, Ind. – Fourteen members of the Franklin College football program were named to one of three all-conference teams when the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) unveiled its year-end award winners on Wednesday morning.

Senior Matthew Anderson, Brady Hale and Bryce Hale were all rewarded for strong campaigns with First Team All-HCAC honors. Franklin placed the most players on the league's second team with Tre Akers, Antonio Buhrfiend, Cole Daab, Jacob Earl, Austin Grunden, Brayton Shannon, Braden Smith and Evan Stambaugh all finding their way onto the team.

Additionally, sophomore Carter Brown, freshman JP Osafo and sophomore Tanner Swindle represented Franklin on the league's honorable mention team.

Indianapolis, Ind.-native Anderson was named to the league's first team for the second year in a row, starting all 10 games at either left tackle, right tackle or right guard and helping out a Franklin run game that averaged 198.7 yards per game on the ground.

Twin brothers Brady and Bryce Hale each make their first career appearance on the first team after both started all 10 games on the defensive line. Bryce finished with 39 tackles a team-high 4.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for a loss and a returned a blocked punt for a touchdown against Mount St. Joseph. Brady recorded 33 stops, 3.5 sacks, 10 tackles for a loss, picked off one pass and tied for the league lead with three forced fumbles.

Akers also collected his second all-conference honor after starting all 10 games at center for the Grizzlies. The Indianapolis product closed out his career with 20 straight starts at center for Franklin.

Buhrfiend assumed the punting duties as a true freshman, recording 37.9 yards per kick on 40 attempts with a career-long of 60. On 11 occasions, the St. Joseph, Mich.-native flipped field position, sticking opponents inside the 20 yard line.

Daab started all 10 games at wideout, finishing tied for the team lead with 26 catches while leading the Grizzlies with 482 receiving yards and four touchdowns to earn his first all-conference honor. The Bloomington, Ind.-native topped 100 yards on two occasions, setting a career-high with 141 yards against Rose-Hulman on Oct. 5.

Earl appeared in eight games in the backfield, making five starts and finishing second on the team with 606 yards rushing to go along with seven touchdowns. He set a career-high with 207 yards rushing on just 23 carries in a win over Bluffton on Sept. 21. It is his second all-conference honor after earning a spot on the first team in 2018.

Grunden played in all 10 games, starting the final five and leading Franklin with 853 yards on the ground while finding the end zone seven times. Three times he surpassed 100 yards in a game, setting a career-best with 217 yards on 27 carries against Hanover in the season finale while becoming the only HCAC runner to surpass 100 yards against the Panther defense. It is the second straight year Grunden earned a spot on the league's second team.

Shannon was named an all-conference recipient for the second time as well, making an appearance on the second team after leading the conference in tackles with 99 and tackles per game with 9.9. The Greenfield, Ind.-native recorded double-digit tackles five times, adding three sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss and scored his first touchdown when he rumbled 75 yards on a fumble recovery against Mount St. Joseph.

Also picking up his second all-conference award was Mattoon, Ill.-native Smith, who started eight games under center for the Grizzlies while throwing for 1,848 yards and 14 touchdowns. He ends his career with 5,293 passing yards and 46 touchdown passes while playing in 31 games.

Stambaugh became a first-time all-conference recipient after a strong junior campaign that saw him tie for fifth in the conference with 68 tackles. The Lebanon, Ind.-native opened the year with three straight double-digit tackle efforts to finish second to Shannon for most stops on the team.

In his second season as the team's primary placekicker, Brown collected his first all-conference honor after going 4-for-5 on field goals and 32-for-34 on extra points for 44 points total. The New Castle, Ind.-native set a career-long with a 38-yard field goal against Bluffton on Nov. 9, opening the scoring in a 10-0 FC win.

Osafo started all 10 games at cornerback as a freshman, leading the Grizzlies with three interceptions and eight pass break-ups while also recording 27 tackles on the year. The Chesterton, Ind.-native had a career afternoon in a win over Bluffton on Sept. 14, making three tackles and picking off a pair of passes in 34-19 win.

The final all-conference recipient, Swindle finished fifth on the team with 40 tackles on the year, making 12 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, two pass break-ups and forcing one fumble from the defensive tackle spot. The Sheridan, Ind.-native set a career-high with 10 stops against Manchester on Oct. 19.