Grizzlies Chosen as Preseason Favorites by HCAC Coaches

Grizzlies Chosen as Preseason Favorites by HCAC Coaches

GREENWOOD, Ind. – The Franklin College football team has once again been chosen as the favorite to win the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) after being named preseason favorites by the league on Wednesday afternoon.

Head coach Mike Leonard's squad finished 8-2 last year and 7-1 in HCAC play to share the league crown with Rose-Hulman. The Grizzlies picked up seven-of-nine first place votes in this year's preseason poll, garnering 88 points. Rose-Hulman was picked to finish second after earning 80 points and one first place vote. Bluffton earned the final first place vote on their way to a third place selection with 70 points.

Mt. St. Joseph (62 pts), Hanover (57 pts), Defiance (42 pts), Manchester (37 pts), Anderson (31 pts) and Earlham (19 pts) rounded out this year's preseason coaches' rankings.

This year's Grizzlies feature eight starters returning on offense, led by two-time HCAC Offensive Player of the Year in senior quarterback Chase Burton. Other First Team All-HCAC selections back include receivers Deontez Alexander and Lee Wroblewski and offensive linemen Samm Hayes and Sam Burck back to anchor the offensive line.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Grizzlies welcome back five starters from last year's squad. Last year's leading tackler, senior linebacker Jared Wesley and senior defensive back Ryan Conner are back after garnering Second Team All-HCAC honors a year ago. Other returning starters include senior defensive linemen Zach Turner and Grant Bryan, as well as senior linebacker Jay McClain.

Franklin opens the regular season on Saturday, Sept. 2 when they head to Crestview Hills, Ky. to battle the Saints of Thomas More College in a non-conference showdown. Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m.

2017 HCAC Preseason Coaches Poll

School (First Place Votes)

Points

1. Franklin (7)

88

2. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (1)

80

3. Bluffton (1)

70

4. Mt. St. Joseph

62

5. Hanover

57

6. Defiance

42

7. Manchester

37

8. Anderson

31

9. Earlham

19