INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. --- Seven Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference football players have been named All-North Region by D3football.com, with the region teams being announced on Tuesday (Dec. 4) morning.
Elijah Smith, Anderson
Anderson University freshman defensive end Elijah Smith (Indianapolis, Ind.) was named third team All-North Region by D3football.com. Smith is AU's first selection since linebacker Nate Moser was named third team in 2014.
In 2018, Smith set an Anderson record for tackles for loss, recording 29.5. He ranked third in all of Division III in TFLs and tied for the national lead in forced fumbles with seven. He also had 7.5 sacks on the year and 62 total tackles.
Isaac Zickafoose, Bluffton
Isaac Zickafoose (Middlebury, Ind.) has been named Second Team All-North Region by D3football.com following a senior season that saw the defensive end earn his second HCAC Defensive Player of the Year award. It marks the third straight year that Zickafoose has been an All-Region selection after back-to-back third team honors.
Zickafoose led the Heartland with 11.5 sacks (3rd all-time at Bluffton) and his 17.0 TFL's were second in the HCAC and fifth all-time for a season at Bluffton. His 80 fumble recovery yards topped the HCAC and set a new school mark, while his eight breakups were tied for sixth in the HCAC and fifth all-time at Bluffton. He was second on the team with 63 tackles and his 49 solo stops led the Beavers.
Zickafoose, a four-time First Team All-Heartland Conference selection, used his four TFL's and two sacks in Bluffton's 34-7 win over Defiance to take over the top spot on the career lists with 60.5 TFL's and 35.5 sacks! He also stands at the top of Bluffton career charts with 308 TFL yards, 228 sack yards, 85 fumble recovery yards and 15 quarterback hurries. The three-time All-North Region honoree wrapped up his record-setting career with five forced fumbles (tied for 5th all-time) and 193 tackles (11th all-time).
Brad Bonomini, Franklin
Named the 2018 HCAC Offensive MVP a few weeks ago, Bonomini (Lawrenceburg, Ind.) was one of two region wideouts to earn First Team All-Region honors. The Lawrenceburg, Ind.-native topped the HCAC with 71 catches for 1,224 yards, grabbing 11 touchdowns on the year for the league's top offense. Bonomini finished with six games of more than 100 yards, ranking fifth in the nation in yards and second nationally with 122.4 yards per game.
He becomes the 11th Grizzly to earn a spot on the region's first team and the first Franklin receiver to crack the top team since Kyle Linville back in 2013.
Matt Anderson, Franklin
Anderson (Indianapolis, Ind.) capped a strong season as the team's starting left guard by being named to the north region's third team. A First Team All-HCAC selection this past year, Anderson started all 10 games for the Grizzlies on the interior line and played a major role in helping the Grizzlies average 558.3 yards per game, the second most in Division III.
The Indianapolis, Ind.-native allowed just one sack on the year for a balanced Grizzly offense that racked up 225.1 yards per game on the ground and 333.2 yards per contest in the air. He becomes the seventh offensive lineman in program history to earn all-region selection, following his predecessor at left guard in Sam Burck who was named second team all-region one year ago.
Brandon Merrick, Hanover
Merrick (Mount Vernon, Ind.), a 2018 first team all-HCAC pick, led an offensive line that guided Hanover to 183.1 rushing yards per game, a program-high under third year head coach Matt Theobald. The Panthers also averaged 429.7 total offensive yards per game, also a high under Theobald.
During the 2018 season, Merrick allowed one sack and conceded just three over his final two campaigns with the Blue and Red. Hanover also earned a share of its first HCAC championship and qualified for the NCAA Division III National Playoffs for the first time since 2003.
Dillon Nelson, Manchester
Senior defensive back Dillon Nelson (Fairland, Ind.) landed a spot on the D3football.com All-North Region First Team. This season, Nelson recorded a career-high 63 tackles. Nelson ranked second in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference with six interceptions. He recovered a fumble. In a 21-17 win over Bluffton this season, Nelson intercepted three passes and returned two for touchdowns. Nelson was named to the D3football.com Team of the Week for his outstanding performance against the Beavers. Nelson was a First Team All-Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference selection this season. Nelson played in 38 games over his four-year career at Manchester and compiled career totals of 194 tackles, 18 pass breakups and 17 interceptions.
Charles Stefanek, Manchester
Freshman Charles Stefanek (Van Wert, Ohio) earned All-North Region Second Team honors on Tuesday as a returner. During his first campaign in the Black and Gold, Stefanek totaled 571 return yards and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. Against Mount St. Joseph, Stefanek returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. Stefanek also garnered First Team All-HCAC honors this fall.