Simpson defensive linemen seniors BJ Bengard and Dustin Schelling were named football All-Americans by the Don Hansen Football Gazette on Jan. 27.
Bengard, of Orange City, earned second team All-American honors. Schelling of Atlantic received third team All-American honors. The honors marked the 35th and 36th times Simpson football players have been named to an All-American team. Bengard and Schelling were both surprised by the honors.
“I tried to play like an All-American, but I didn’t try to be an All-American,” Bengard said.
This past season, Bengard tallied 82 tackles for the Storm, 16.5 for a loss. He recorded 7.5 sacks and broke up three passes. Bengard finished the season ranked 35th in Division III in tackles for a loss with 1.7 per game. He was also 51st in sacks per game with 0.8.
As a junior, Bengard was the team leader in forced fumbles and second on the team in recovered fumbles with two each. He was also third for Simpson in tackles for a loss with 8.5. He was fifth on the team with 59 charted tackles.
Bengard was named second team All-Conference as a sophomore. He was second on the team in sacks (7.5) and tackles for a loss (11.5). He tallied 54 tackles and had one interception for 29 yards.
“I remember I came here as a freshman and I saw the All-American wall in Cowles, and I wanted to get my picture up there,” Bengard said. “I guess I did.”
Schelling led Simpson in sacks with 10.5 and was second on the team in tackles for a loss (16.5). He made 59 tackles and returned two fumbles for touchdowns during the season. Schelling finished 13th in Division III in sacks per game (1.1) and 37th in tackles for a loss per game (1.6).
Schelling was named second team All-Conference as a junior. He led the team in interceptions with three and returned one of those interceptions for an 84-yard touchdown. He was second on the squad in tackles for a loss and sacks with 13 and seven, respectively. He had 47 tackles, broke up two passes and recovered one fumble.
As a sophomore, Schelling made 12 tackles in the 12 varsity games he appeared in. He broke up one pass and recorded one tackle for a loss of three yards.
“When I was a freshman I was pondering not coming back as a sophomore because I was smaller for a defensive lineman,” Shelling said. “Just the fact that I came back from wanting to quit to being an All-American-that was pretty cool.”
Both Bengard and Schelling claim hard work to be the underlying factor that got them to where they finished their careers. Head Football Coach Jay Nieman agrees.
“One common ingredient between the two was hard work,” Nieman said. “Both did a tremendous job in the offseason and made huge strides from when they came here. It’s a tremendous honor for Simpson College.”
As for next year, both seniors believe that Simpson has potential if the players are willing to work for it. Bengard and Schelling would have liked to see more wins and hope the team can continue improving.
“The football team can win the conference title,” Schelling said. “They just have to believe in themselves. But hard work has to be at the top of their list for that to happen.”