STEPHENVILLE – Tarleton's Cody Burtscher and Zed Woerner claimed superlative awards from the Lone Star Conference when the league's all-conference teams were announced Friday morning.
"I'm proud of all of these guys," said head coach Todd Whitten. "They bought in and did everything the coaches asked them to do and now they're reaping the benefits of all of their hard work and dedication. I can't say enough about this particular group of players and I'm just very proud of what they've accomplished."
Burtscher took home three different awards to cap off his senior campaign at Tarleton.
The senior from Glen Rose was named the league's Linebacker of the Year, as well as a first-team all-conference selection and an academic All-LSC honoree. Burtscher finished the season as the Lone Star Conference leader in tackles with 117 while tacking on 6.0 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, and three interceptions. He was also named the LSC Defensive Player of the Week after lifting the Texans to a 35-5 win over Angelo State in September. He also boasts a 3.93 grade point average as a bio-medical science major and was a national semifinalist for the National Football Foundation's William V. Campbell trophy.
Burtscher, who came to Tarleton as a running back and spent his first two seasons on offense, transitioned to linebacker prior to his junior season before enjoying a career year in 2016. He becomes the fifth Texan in school history to win the LSC Linebacker of the Year award and the first since Marcus Phillips in 2009.
Meanwhile, Woerner also earned top honors as the junior quarterback became the first Texan in school history to be named the league's Academic Player of the Year. Woerner boasts a 3.81 grade point average as a Kinesiology major at Tarleton. He threw for 2,445 yards on a 61.3 completion percentage with 24 touchdowns this season.
Joining Burtscher on the league's first team was junior wide receiver standout, Del'Michael High.
High stepped right into the spotlight in his debut season at Tarleton and hauled in 55 receptions for 790 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. He played a large role in Tarleton setting a new school record this season by having two wide receivers top 100 receiving yards in three different games this season. High was one of the two receivers in each of the three games.
Tarleton had three players named to the league's second team – Bubba Tandy (WR), Brandt Bailey (FB), and EJ Speed (DE).
Tandy wrapped up his senior season at Tarleton with 695 receiving yards and seven touchdowns on 42 receptions this season while Bailey, a true freshman from Eastland, emerged onto the collegiate scene with 170 yards and a touchdown on 15 receptions from the fullback/tight end position in the Texan offense.
EJ Speed claimed his first Lone Star Conference honor after finishing the season with 68 tackles from the defensive end position, including 13.0 tackles for a loss and 6.0 sacks. The sophomore also led the nation for multiple weeks in forced fumbles, finishing the season with five, while adding an interception, two pass breakups, 10 QB hurries, two fumble recoveries, and two blocked kicks.
The Texans also had five players named honorable mention All-LSC, including four defensive Texans and deep snapper Trent Gow.
Dominique Martin, a former wide receiver playing his final year as a cornerback, shared the league lead with five interceptions this year to go along with 41 tackles while fellow senior defensive back, Treston Ridge, also earned honorable mention honors with 68 tackles, nine pass breakups, and three interceptions from the safety position. Ridge also earned Defensive Player of the Week honors after his two fourth-quarter interceptions against Eastern New Mexico sealed a road win for Tarleton.
Juniors Basil Jackson and Chase Varnado earned honorable mention nods after boasting career years. Jackson finished second on the team with 84 tackles and two interceptions, both of which he returned for touchdowns, while Varnado finished the season with 62 tackles, including 13.0 for a loss and 8.0 sacks.
Gow earned his first career league honor after taking over the deep snap responsibilities in the Tarleton special teams unit.
Tarleton, who improved its win total by two and were competing for a share of the league title with two games to go in the season under head coach Todd Whitten, finished the season with a 5-6 record.