Runda, Frost and Fox named First Team All-HCAC
November 20, 2013
BLUFFTON, Ohio - A fantastic finish to the 2013 season was capped off on Wednesday, Nov. 20, when 10 Bluffton University football players earned All-Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference honors, including three selected to the first team. Four Beavers were named to the second team following a season that saw Bluffton post victories over Anderson, Franklin and rival Defiance in the final three games this year.
For the second straight season, versatile slot receiver Shawn Frost (Edison/Mt. Gilead) put together numbers that landed him on the first team. The senior captain led Bluffton with 52 catches for 661 yards which placed him fifth in the HCAC for receiving yards per game. His 661 yards this year are the ninth-highest total for a single season at Bluffton, while his 52 receptions place him fifth all-time. Frost also hauled in eight touchdown grabs in 2013 (3rd in the HCAC), tying him for second all-time thanks to a school-record 10 touchdown receptions put up by junior Donovan Brown (Cincinnati/Purcell Marian) on the other side of the field this year.
Frost finished his superb career at Bluffton with 108 receptions (4th all-time), including 13 touchdowns (tied for 5th all-time). His 1,359 yards (12.6 yards per catch) are the sixth-highest total by a receiver in Bluffton football history. Also Bluffton's primary punt returner for his final three seasons, Frost equaled Eric Metz for the most returns in school history with 46 for his career. His 333 yards are 2nd all-time behind Metz, while his 7.2 return average is 6th all-time. He was one of three Beavers to have a catch or rush be named HCAC Play of the Week. Frost's winning play was a one-handed touchdown grab from junior quarterback Nick Sheehan (Monroeville, Ind./Heritage) late in the fourth quarter against Earlham helping the Beavers cap a 36-21 win in the conference opener and it garnered an overwhelming 93 percent of the vote.
After moving into the starting lineup early last season, senior Josh Runda (Lima/Bath) has been one of the most dominating linebackers in the conference. Runda spearheaded the Bluffton defense with 118 tackles (4th all-time) which placed him 3rd in the Heartland Conference after racking up 98 stops a year ago. His 70 solo stops this season also established a new school mark, topping Sam McCullough who racked up 60 unassisted tackles in 2007. A starting catcher early in his time at Bluffton, Runda was tabbed a first team selection after picking up second team honors as a junior. He was third in the HCAC with 16 tackles-for-a-loss (3rd all-time at Bluffton) and he also recorded three sacks, three pass breakups and four quarterback hurries. His three fumbles forced were 3rd in the HCAC and he recovered a fumble as well. Runda's 274 career tackles leave him 4th all-time for the Beavers. In addition, Runda finished with six forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, an interception and six breakups. He was named the HCAC Defensive Player of the Week following a 16-tackle performance against #9 Franklin College.
Bluffton's final selection to the First Team All-HCAC was junior returner Eric Fox (Brunswick) who ran back 10 kickoffs for 335 yards. His 33.5 yards per return place him 2nd all-time for a season at Bluffton. He had a long return of 80 yards and his 1,064 all-purpose yards were 2nd in the HCAC. Fox was also an honorable mention selection for offensive exploits. He led Bluffton with 439 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, while adding 290 receiving yards on 34 catches with two scores, including a 72-yard catch and run against Rose-Hulman on Homecoming.
Headlining the Second Team All-HCAC selections for Bluffton was Donovan Brown. The junior receiver had a breakout junior campaign, establishing a new single-season mark with 10 touchdown grabs (2nd in the HCAC). His 676 receiving yards are 7th all-time at Bluffton and his 44 catches are 6th for a season. Brown finished 4th in the HCAC with 15.4 yards per catch and he was 5th in the HCAC with 60 points. His game-winning touchdown catch against #9 Franklin College was selected as the D3Football.com national play of the week and it also was one of three Heartland Conference plays of the week this season. Brown hauled in three touchdowns of at least 49 yards in Bluffton's narrow loss to Rose-Hulman.
Sophomore Ryan Aelker (New Bavaria/Holgate) made his presence known on the defensive line this season, his first in a starting role. The second team honoree was second for Bluffton with 13.5 TFL's (7th in the HCAC) for 65 yards, including six sacks (5th in the HCAC) that totaled 39 yards. He broke up a pass, forced a fumble and induced three quarterback hurries. His 47 tackles placed him 4th for the Beavers and his work in Bluffton's 28-0 shutout of Anderson earned him Player of the Week honors.
A transition from linebacker to offensive lineman paid immediate dividends this year as sophomore Austin Speice (Paulding/Wayne Trace) became a fixture up front and took over at left tackle when the Beavers suffered crucial injuries early in the season. He has also worked at long snapper for the past two years. A Second Team All-HCAC honoree, Speice provided big-league protection for a Bluffton offense that shattered the school record for touchdown passes in a season as the Sheehan brothers combined to light up defenses for 23 scoring tosses. The Beavers finished 4th in the conference with 234 passing yards per game.
Senior safety Josh Hadley (Harper Woods, Mich./Harper Woods) collected his first piece of All-Heartland Conference hardware this season. His 42 tackles were 8th on the team while his five TFL's tied him for 3rd. Hadley led the Beavers with two interceptions, he broke up two passes and recovered a fumble that he returned 22 yards. For his career, Hadley finished with 76 tackles, including 40 solos and 6.5 TFL's, while being a fixture in the lineup for four years. He was named Second Team All-HCAC following his final campaign with the Beavers.
Junior Wyatt Herman (Edgerton) racked up 56 tackles this season, second-highest for Bluffton behind fellow linebacker Josh Runda. He was in on 5 TFL's (tied for 3rd with Josh Hadley), had a pickoff and forced a fumble while earning honorable mention honors in 2013.
Also selected honorable mention this year was junior Ben Schamp (St. Marys/Memorial). The nose tackle finished with 37 tackles, including 4.5 TFL's and a sack. Schamp forced a fumble and recovered one is second year as a starter up front.
After injuries forced Ryan Leopold (Ottawa/Ottawa-Glandorf) to the sideline in 2012, the junior defensive end showed no ill-effects from the time off while putting together his best year with the Beavers, earning honorable mention acclaim. Leopold finished with 41 tackles, 4.5 TFL's, three quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He blocked three kicks, including a school-record two in the first quarter at Defiance, helping the Bluffton seniors, and his former classmates, wrap up their careers in style. For his efforts at Defiance, Leopold was named the HCAC Special Teams Player of the Week.
In conjunction with the All-HCAC selections, the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference also announced the All-HCAC Sportsmanship Team for the fall of 2013. Senior Marquis Brown (University Heights/Cleveland Heights) was selected to the All-Sportsmanship Team from Bluffton. This award has been developed as part of a conference-wide sportsmanship initiative. Members of the All-HCAC Sportsmanship team are selected by the coaches and their teammates as individuals who demonstrate the ideals of positive sportsmanship both on and off the field/court of competition.
Bluffton finished 4-6 overall and 4-4 in the Heartland Conference after sweeping its last three games, including a stunning upset of #9 Franklin College that kept The Grizzlies from completing four straight years of undefeated play in the Heartland Conference. The Beavers followed that win up with their fourth straight 'Hammer' at Defiance, sending the Bluffton seniors out with a perfect 4-0 mark against the rival Yellow Jackets. Full statistics and information on the 2013 football season are available online at www.blufftonbeavers.com/football.