Football Cards land 17 on all-Big 8 team

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By: 
Rob Reischel
Middleton's Shane Bick (48) was named first-team all-Big Eight Conference./File photo

Middleton’s football team enjoyed a terrific season in which it went 8-1 in the Big Eight Conference, finished second in the league and reached the second round of the postseason.

The Cardinals were then justly rewarded as 17 Middleton players received some form of all-conference honors.

Eight Middleton players received first-team all-conference honors. That list included senior defensive linemen Ryan Lewis and Colin Liegel, senior linebackers Shane Bick and Jimmy Frusciante, senior cornerback Cole Ragsdale, senior running backs Dion Huff and James Pabst, and senior offensive linemen Grant Manser.

The Cardinals’ second team selections included senior offensive lineman Corey Parkinson, junior offensive lineman Gavin Adler, senior quarterback Davis Roquet and junior wideout Bryce Carey.

And Middleton’s honorable mention all-conference players included senior tight end Luke Ballweg, senior offensive lineman Logan Thomas, senior defensive lineman Tyler Smith, senior outside linebacker Ryan Handowski, and junior cornerback Kevin Meicher.

Lewis finished the year with six sacks, four tackles for loss and 46 tackles. He also blocked a punt and had one pass deflection.

“He’s an outstanding leverage player,” Middleton coach Tim Simon said of Lewis. “He has great speed off the edge and is able to run players down.”

Liegel ended the year with 34 tackles and six tackles for loss. Liegel had 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble and three pass deflections.

“He can play anywhere on the D-line,” Middleton coach Tim Simon said of Liegel. “He’s versatile and made himself a great player by his work ethic in the weight room in the offseason.”

Frusciante, Middleton’s middle linebacker, had 67 tackles and eight tackles for loss. Frusciante had 4.5 sacks, one forced fumble, one interception and two passes defensed.

“He was an outstanding player and leader,” Simon said of Frusciante.

Bick led Middleton with 79 tackles and had 10 tackles for loss. He added 2.5 sacks, one forced fumble and three passes defenses.

“He was a team captain and one of the best defensive players in the league,” Simon said of Bick.

Ragsdale was the No. 1 cornerback on a defense that allowed just 7.9 points per game. He finished with 34 tackles, three interceptions, 14 passes defensed, one blocked kick and one tackle for loss.

“He also played wide receiver and returned punts,” Simon said of Ragsdale. “He’s a great athlete, extremely quick and has great reaction time and closing speed to the ball.”

Pabst finished with 732 rushing yards in Big Eight games and 1,132 yards counting the postseason. Pabst had 17 rushing touchdowns, 18 total touchdowns and also caught eight passes for 84 yards (10.5).

Huff had 738 rushing yards in league games and 874 rushing yards counting the postseason. Huff also had 16 rushing touchdowns and caught 10 passes for 112 yards.

Manser was Middleton’s top offensive lineman and led a group that had five new starters and battled injuries throughout the year.

“He’s a great center, leader and blocker,” Simon said. “He’s a great communicator and leader of the front line.”

Simon called Parkinson, Middleton’s right tackle, the “most improved player on line.” 

“He’s a great pass blocker and very good at reach blocks and setting the edge on outside plays,” Simon said.

Adler (5-8, 222) was an undersized right guard, but as tough and scrappy as they come.

“He’s great pulling on plays,” Simon said. “He plays with great technique and leverage.”

Roquet was the third-leading passer in the conference, throwing for 1,040 yards and completing 88-of-164 passes (53.7%). Counting the postseason, Roquet threw for 1,148 yards, nine touchdowns and seven interceptions.

“He has a great arm and understanding of the game,” Simon said of Roquet.

Carey was Middleton’s leading receiver with 24 receptions for 268 yards and two touchdowns.

“He’s a true quarterback,” Simon said of Carey. “But he made the switch to wide receiver to help team.”

Ballweg was a complete tight end, a player whose blocking was every bit as good as his pass catching. He finished the year with 18 receptions for 172 yards.

“He’s an outstanding blocker and a dominant player,” Simon said of Ballweg. “He drew double teams most of the season. A true tight end and the best overall tight end in the conference.”

Thomas, Middleton’s left guard, was a terrific drive blocker and had a tremendous football I.Q.

“He was our most consistent player,” Simon said.

Smith, Middleton’s nose tackle, had three sacks, one tackle for loss and one forced fumble.

“He always drew double teams,” Simon said. “He’s great at holding his ground and allowing linebackers to fill gaps and run downhill.”

Handowski finished the year with 37 tackles, four tackles for loss, one forced fumble and five passes defended.

“He’s a smart player, one of the most improved defensive players this year,” Simon said.

Meicher had three interceptions, including one that he returned for a touchdown, and five passes defensed. He added 19 tackles, two forced fumbles, and led the conference in punt return average (29.0) and touchdowns (two).

“He’s an all-state wrestler, great athlete and dynamic playmaker,” Simon said of Meicher.

Middleton also handed out two team awards.

Jake Hoskins received the Nick Donndelinger Memorial Award, which is voted on by the team and given to the “Best Teammate.”

And Bick received the Out-Of-Season Work Ethic Award, which is also voted on by the team and given to the athlete who dedicated himself in the weightroom and worked the hardest in the off-season.

 

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