SEWARD, Neb. – Six Concordia University football players claimed spots on the GPAC’s first team with all-conference selections released by the league on Tuesday. No other Concordia football team had ever had more than four first team all-GPAC award winners. Among them junior running back Bryce Collins garnered his second-straight first team mention. In total, 15 Bulldog student-athletes were honored. Three were placed on the second team and another six picked up honorable mention.
Joining Collins on the first team were offensive teammates in senior tackle Ben Balduc, junior tight end Seth Fitzke and sophomore receiver Jared Garcia. Defensively, junior end Trey Barnes and sophomore corner Tarence Roby also rose to first team honors. Concordia second team choices included junior safety LeDontrae Gooden, junior linebacker Michael Hedlund and senior linebacker Tait Sibbel
Barnes enjoyed one of the most productive seasons of any GPAC defensive player. The Seward High School product thrived up front, posting 75 total tackles and team best figures of 20 tackles for loss and 10 sacks (second among GPAC players). The 6-foot-1, 245-pound Seward native had at least a partial sack in seven of 10 games and was named the conference’s defensive player of the week on Oct. 19. Barnes led a defense that ranked sixth nationally in fewest yards allowed per game.
Collins continues to make his mark as one of the most prolific running backs in program history. The native of Boerne, Texas, has career totals of 2,666 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns after rumbling for 946 yards and 10 total touchdowns in 2015. The three-time GPAC all-conference honoree has 13 career 100-yard rushing games to his credit. He will enter 2016 ranked fifth all-time on Concordia’s rushing list.
One of the league’s most dangerous receiving threats, Garcia caught 41 passes for 713 yards and eight touchdowns despite a bevy of injuries at the quarterback position. The Pearland, Texas, native set a new career high for receiving yards in 2015 while running his career totals to 85 catches for 1,363 yards and 19 touchdowns. He is just five receiving touchdowns off the program career record of 24 held by Hall of Famer Ross Wurdeman.
A former member of the Northern Illinois University football team, Roby locked down his side of the field for the NAIA’s sixth-ranked pass defense. The Rockford, Ill., native made 20 tackles and seven pass break ups. Opposing quarterbacks were hesitant to challenge Roby, who forced a fumble and recovered two in 2015.
Fitzke, another Seward native, elevated himself from second team honors in 2014. A punishing blocker in the run game, Fitzke made 16 grabs for 136 yards and two touchdowns. Up front, Balduc, who hails from Roanoke, Texas, was the leader of a physical offensive line that helped pave the way for Collins. Balduc started every game at right tackle as a senior.
A breakout performer, Hedlund surpassed 100 tackles on the year (105) in the final game to conclude a big season. The former quarterback and second-leading tackler in the GPAC also registered 4.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, four pass break ups and one interception. Hedlund teamed up with Sibbel to form a formidable linebacker core. A three-year starter at safety, Sibbel flourished as a linebacker, where he recorded 53 tackles, 12 stops for loss, an interception and five pass break ups. In the secondary, Gooden topped the Bulldogs with a GPAC high five picks. The Southern Oregon transfer also made 59 tackles (six for loss).
The Bulldogs finished the 2015 season on Nov. 14 with a 48-0 win over Briar Cliff. Seventh-year head coach Vance Winter’s squad posted an overall record of 6-4 and conference mark of 5-4.
2015 Concordia FB All-GPAC
Ben Balduc, OL
Trey Barnes, DL
Bryce Collins, RB
Seth Fitzke, TE
Jared Garcia, WR
Tarence Roby, DB
LeDontrae Gooden, DB
Michael Hedlund, LB
Tait Sibbel, LB
Keddrick Fuselier, OL
Clint Gardels, DL
Ron Jackson, DL
D’Mauria Martin, DB
Clay Mauro, LB
Erik Small, FB