College Football

Hawks' football family gives Franzens support

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Sep. 9, 2017 8:10 pm

They stood at midfield with their arms around each other and their heads bowed.

Marc Franzen was the only person on either of their minds.

Before the Quincy University football team kicked off Saturday's home opener against Alderson-Broaddus, the Hawks invited Jana Franzen to join her son, sophomore defensive end Andrew Franzen, and the QU team captains at midfield for the coin toss.

A moment of silence was observed for a father and a husband gone too soon. Andrew and his mother were arm-in-arm the entire time, remembering Marc, who died in July at the age of 50.

"I'm doing everything I can to keep making him proud," Andrew said. "I'm trying to be as strong as possible."

He's leaning on his football family to help him do that.

An owner and operator of a limousine company in the Chicago suburbs, Marc Franzen was driving on I-55 on July 20 when he suffered a massive heart attack and died unexpectedly.

"One day, the world got flipped upside down," Andrew said.

At the time of Marc's death, the Hawks and the coaching staff rallied around Andrew. QU interim coach Gary Bass and several players attended services in Plainfield.

"To be honest, I can't put into words how much that meant to me," Franzen said. "As a coach, as a person, as a man, to do that for me, it's indescribable."

The entire QU football family rallied around the entire Franzen family on Saturday.

It wasn't just a moment of silence observed by the players and the crowd of roughly 1,200 fans. It was the affirmation the QU program's mantra of "faith, family and football" carries true meaning.

Jana was embraced by players and coaches alike after officials signaled the Hawks would receive the opening kickoff. Andrew walked out of QU Stadium with a game ball dedicated to his father after Quincy's 50-21 victory. He came off the bench in the second half and made one tackle.

It reminded Franzen why he chose Quincy, why he decided to return after an emotional offseason and why he calls his teammates brothers.

"They really showed me how much of a family we are, and that's what this group is all about," he said.

There was no way the Hawks were going to let Franzen grieve alone.

"When that happened, it tore at my heart and it tore at everyone's heart," said senior fullback Troy Johnson, one of Franzen's teammates to attend funeral services. "It brought us closer together and made us realize there is so much more than football going on."

Saturday was a snapshot of that.

"Andrew is one of those guys who literally everybody loves on our team," said senior linebacker Nate Rueckemann, who also attended the funeral services. "The guys flooded him with support. It truly shows how close we are as a team."

Franzen's personality, emotion and energy are infectious. He inherited that gregarious nature from his father, a gift he will relish as life moves forward.

He'll tell you it isn't easy, but moments like Saturday make it possible.

"You just have to take it day by day," Franzen said.

Each day he's reminded each day his football family always will be there.