Alex Belongia of Rice Lake has been named as the recipient of the 2021 Jim Leonhard Award, awarded to the state’s top senior defensive back.
Belongia is one of the top two-way players in the state, earning First Team All-Conference as a receiver and defensive back, with Offensive Player of the Year honors in the Big Rivers. Belongia was recently named a WFCA Large School All-State selection on both offense and defense.
Finalists for the award were Belongia, Logan Engeseth of DeForest, Daniel Martens of Franklin, Cole Toennies of Middleton, and Cole Trimborn of Nicolet.
Past winners of the award include Marquette’s Michael Trotter (2009), Appleton North’s Joe Makeever (2010), Edgar’s Kyle Schueller (2011), Whitefish Bay’s Jackson Weber (2012), Appleton North’s Connor Rolain (2013), Kimberly’s Bret Verstegen (2014), Marquette’s Michael Crowley (2015), Monona Grove’s Jarrett Maier (2016), Waunakee’s Lucas Statz (2017), La Crosse Central’s David Hayden (2018), Milwaukee Riverside’s Amaun Williams (2019), and Muskego’s Hunter Wohler (2020).
The award is named after Jim Leonhard, one of the most beloved players from the state of Wisconsin. Hailing from tiny Tony, Wisconsin and attending Flambeau High School, Leonhard was a two-time All-State selection. He walked-on at the University of Wisconsin, and quickly established himself as a leader and outstanding player. He started 39 games in his career, and his 21 career interceptions are tied for the most in Badger history and fourth in the Big Ten. He also broke the Big Ten punt return yardage record. Leonhard went undrafted, but hooked on with the Buffalo Bills before moving to the Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets, and Cleveland Browns. He is now a very successful assistant coach back at Wisconsin.
The voting panel for the WSN Senior Football Awards consisted of: Travis Wilson, WSN General Manager and Head Football Writer; Norbert Durst, WSN Content Manager; Dennis Semrau, ESPN Madison; B.J. DeGroot, WSCO The Score 95.3 in Appleton; Curt Hogg, NOW Newspapers; Dan Barwick, WSN Contributor; Colton Wilson, WSN Content Producer; Fan Vote
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