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Sokol Named HCAC Football Coach of the Year

Jeff Sokol was named Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Football Coach of the Year, and 13 Fightin' Engineers earned all-league recognition for their efforts during the 2013 season.

746Hcacfootball WebFirst-team all-conference honorees included offensive guard Kie Bates (Indianapolis/Ben Davis), senior defensive tackle Dean Griffing (Plano, Ill./Aurora Christian), senior quarterback Ryan Landwehr (Tipp City, Ohio/Tippecanoe Valley) and junior center Eric Taylor (Chapel Hill, N.C./Carrboro).

Second-team award winners included senior kicker Matt Angel (Cassville, Mo.), junior tight end Zac Erba (Winona Lake/Warsaw), senior running back Danya Francis (Kissimmee, Fla./Celebration), freshman cornerback Kevin Nowak (Naperville, Ill./Central) and senior punter Eric Schaible (Findlay, Ohio).

Four Fightin' Engineers received honorable mention all-conference accolades.  Honorees included senior wide receiver Connor Gerhart (La Mesa, Calif./La Jolla Country Day), senior defensive lineman D.J. Lawson (Indianapolis/Pike), senior linebacker Cody Rivers (Coconut Creek, Fla./Monarch), and senior linebacker Craig Voges (Huntingburg/Forest Park).

Sokol earned his first HCAC Coach of the Year Award after leading Rose-Hulman to a share of its first conference championship since 1988.  The third-year head coach led the Fightin' Engineers to a 7-1 conference record and a 7-3 overall mark to match Rose-Hulman's best football record since the 1988 season. 

Sokol's coaching staff includes offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator Brian White; defensive coordinator Brian Vaughn; running backs coach Nick Davis; linebackers coach Ben Olson; wide receivers coach Chris Scheidt; and defensive line coach Dominique Ware.

Bates completed his fourth year as a starter on the offensive line, earning honorable mention all-league accolades last season and serving as a team captain this year.  His blocks over 10 starts allowed Kyle Kovach to become the all-time leading rusher in 2012 and helped Ryan Landwehr set a total offense school record in 2013.

Griffing finished his career ranked third in Rose-Hulman history 20.5 sacks and amassed 140 tackles and 44.5 tackles-for-loss in his four years on the defensive line.  This season, he ranked second in the HCAC in tackles-for-loss (16.5) and sacks (8.5) while leading the Fightin' Engineers in both categories.  Griffing also blocked two of Rose-Hulman's six blocked kicks this fall.

Landwehr finished 234-360 through the air (65%) for 2,456 yards and 21 touchdowns this season.  On the ground, he rushed for 459 yards and led the HCAC with 11 rushing touchdowns.  He established new school records with 32 touchdowns responsible for, 2,915 yards of total offense, 234 pass completions and was second in school history with 21 TD passes.

Taylor has started for three seasons on the offensive line at multiple positions, including the center spot this season.  His blocks also helped the offense gain 4,154 yards of total offense to rank second in single-season school history.  Rose-Hulman's 322 points scored this year also ranks No. 2 on the single-season list.

Angel led the second-team honorees after hitting 36-40 extra points and 4-6 field goals this season.  He finished second on the team with 48 points and made significant contributions to the squad after missing much of the past two seasons due to injury.

Erba hauled in 16 receptions for 209 yards and three touchdowns in his second season as a tight end for the Engineer offense.  His three touchdowns came in victories over Bluffton, Mount St. Joseph and Earlham.

Francis rushed for a team-high 645 yards and eight touchdowns in his first season as a starting tailback.  He scored 13 career touchdowns and rushed for 100-yard performances at Bluffton and Earlham this season.

Nowak led the Fightin' Engineers in tackles with 77 and interceptions with four.  His 60 solo tackles also led the squad, and the freshman cornerback also contributed eight pass breakups and four tackles-for-loss this season.

Schaible averaged 38.9 yards per punt this season, with 16 kicks inside the 20-yard line and four punts of over 50 yards.  He established a new Rose-Hulman career school record with 8,668 punting yards and booted 49 kicks inside the 20-yard line with just eight touchbacks as a Fightin' Engineer.

Honorable mention all-conference honorees included Gerhart, Lawson, Rivers and Voges.  Gerhart finished third on the Engineers with 39 receptions for 426 yards and two touchdowns, and also led the team with 12 punt returns for 53 yards.  He also served as an offensive team captain.

Lawson provided depth to the defensive line with 39 tackles, including 27 solo efforts, nine tackles-for-loss and 4.5 sacks.  His career totals included 104 tackles, 20 tackles-for-loss and 8.5 sacks.

Rivers earned HCAC Defensive Player of the Week honros during the season and led the team's linebackers with 58 tackles and 10 tackles-for-loss.  He also recovered two fumbles, grabbed two interceptions and forced a pair of fumbles on the season.

Voges amassed 56 tackles, 8.5 tackles-for-loss and 4.5 sacks as a senior.  His career totals include 186 tackles, 18 tackles-for-loss and seven sacks. 

Senior Mark Fitz (Fort Worth, Texas/Eastern Hills) was also honored as Rose-Hulman's representative to the all-conference sportsmanship team.

Rose-Hulman opens the 2014 season at Kalamazoo College on Sept. 6.

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