Sep 13, 2018
The Opening Kick
With the non-conference schedule behind them, the Franklin football team turns their attention to the 2018 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference opener. Opposing the Grizzlies in week three are the Ravens of Anderson University, who are hosting their second home game in as many weeks on Saturday.
Last Time Out
Franklin hit the road for the first time this year last Saturday, taking on the Albion Britons from the MIAA. Franklin scored on their opening drive of the game, but were done in by a powerful Albion offense and four turnovers in a 56-35 defeat. A complete recap is available on page 12 of the game notes.
The Ravens are guided by a face familiar to Franklin fans, as former FC assistant head coach Steve Rock is currently in his first season at the helm of the Ravens' program. Rock spent 11 years at Franklin prior to joining AU last spring.
Anderson's roster features 48 new faces for the 2018 season, with nine freshmen and two sophomores listed as starters in this week's two-deep.
Jarrod Hubble will get the start under center for the Ravens this week, and is completing 50% of his passes on the year with one TD pass and no interceptions. The Anderson ground game is paced by Johnny Ovalle and Reggie Lipscomb, who have split time in the backfield through the first two games. Alex Barnett leads the team with 73 yards on seven catches, while Phenol Williams' 10 receptions is tops on the Ravens.
On defense, senior Dakota Frauhiger leads the Ravens with 23 total tackles, and the HCAC's Week 1 Defensive Player of the Week tops the team with 16 solo stops. Sophomore linebacker Dezden Flowers is right behind his teammate with 17 stops, 10 of which have been assisted tackles. Elijah Smith leads the Ravens with 1.5 sacks.
Through two weeks, the Franklin offense has retained its spot among the Division III elite, ranking sixth in the nation in total offense with 592 yards per game and eighth in passing offense with 368.5 yards through the air per contest. Both of those marks are tops in the HCAC heading into the first weekend of conference play.
The chemistry between junior quarterback Braden Smith and senior wideout Brad Bonomini has been the driving force of the Franklin offense in the early going. Smith has connected with Bonomini 23 times for 349 yards and five touchdowns, with all three numbers in the top-10 nationally.
Franklin running back Jacob Earl has been dangerous every time he has touched the ball in 2018, recording back-to-back 100-yard games for the first time in his career. Earl comes into this weekend ranked second in the league in rushing yards (253) and yards per game (126.5).
Through two weeks of play, the Grizzlies are tied with Mount St. Joseph at the top of the conference for most yards with 605 per game, and their 260 rushing yards has them all alone atop the HCAC rankings. Additionally, Bonomini leads the conference in catches and receiving yards after one week, and his three touchdowns are tied with Bluffton's Lucas Espitia for most after a week of play.
Since the 2007 season, the Grizzlies have been dominant against the rest of the HCAC, going 86-5 over that span while claiming 10 of the last 11 outright conference championships.
For the eighth consecutive year, the Grizzlies are the league coaches' pick to win the HCAC. After their ninth outright HCAC championship in the last 10 years in 2017, Franklin earned 87 points in the pre-season poll and six of the nine first-place votes.
Franklin head coach Mike Leonard enters Saturday's game just three wins away from matching legendary head coach Stuart "Red" Faught for the most coaching wins in program history with 120.
Around the HCAC
Conference play gets rolling this week with four games taking place around the league. Hanover is the lone team on a bye in week three. The rest of the schedule is as follows:
Rose-Hulman at Mount St. Joseph, 1:30 p.m.
Bluffton at Earlham, 2:30 p.m.
Defiance at Manchester, 6:00 p.m.
Follow the Action Live
Grizzly fans that can tune in to watch the game online with live video and stats provided by Anderson University. In-game updates will also be provided through our Twitter feed, so be sure to follow @fcgrizathletics to keep up-to-date.