Franklin College Tabbed by Coaches to Repeat as HCAC Football Champions

2011 HCAC Composite Schedule (click here)

GREENWOOD, IN – Franklin College claimed their third Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference football title last fall, boasting an 8-0 conference mark.   The Grizzlies have been selected as the favorite to win a second-straight league crown in 2011, according to a poll of the HCAC’s nine head coaches.

Franklin, who was 9-2 overall in 2010, held off Defiance in the preseason poll receiving 78 points and eight first place votes.

Defiance College placed second in the voting with 63 points, while Hanover College finished third with 61 points.  College of Mount St. Joseph (59 points, one 1st place vote), Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (38), Anderson University (34), Bluffton University (34), Manchester College (28), and Earlham College (10) round out the poll.

Along with their goal of receiving a second consecutive conference crown and NCAA Division III playoff berth, Franklin will also be going for their fourth title in five years under the direction of four-time Coach of the Year Mike Leonard. 

The Grizzlies produced one of the deadliest offensive attacks in the nation a year ago, but will have a new signal caller to direct the offense this fall.  Kyle Ray graduated last spring after a tremendous senior season, earning First-Team All-America honors from D3football.com. Sophomore Jonny West (Avon, Ind./Speedway) and senior Nathan Ellis (Plainfield, Ind./H.S.) will compete for the starting job and will strive to keep the Grizzlies offense at an elite level.  FC returns their top running back from last fall as Reece Craig (Bedford, Ind./North Lawrence) comes back for his senior season.  Craig gained 631 yards (5th in HCAC) with nine touchdowns (3rd in HCAC) on 118 carries for the blue and gold in 2010.  The Grizzlies also return All-HCAC receiver Mitch Deffner (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove), who hauled in 36 receptions for 562 yards and six touchdowns.  The FC offensive attack was the most feared in the HCAC last season, averaging 45.6 points and 474.3 yards per game.

Franklin returns a pair of First-Team All-HCAC defensive players to the lineup this fall.   Senior linebacker David O’Rourke (Evansville, Ind./Memorial) produced 53 tackles with a team-high 13.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks for the Grizzlies to earn all-conference honors.  Sophomore defensive back Zack Corpe (Granger, Ind./Elkhart Memorial) earned HCAC Freshman of the Year honors a year ago, tallying 40 tackles with eight interceptions (7th in NCAA).  The blue and gold defense led the HCAC in 2010, allowing only 15.5 points and 248.3 yards per game as a unit.

Franklin fell in the opening round of the NCAA Division III playoffs 52-21 at Wisconsin-Whitewater last November.  FC will begin the 2011 season at Valparaiso on September 3.

Defiance placed second in the conference standings in 2010, finishing the conference campaign with a 6-2 record and a 6-4 overall mark.  The Yellow Jackets will look to compete for a league title this fall, returning key players to both sides of the football.  Senior quarterback Rick Powell (Rochester, Mich./Cousino) utilizes both his arm and feet to move the football for DC.  Powell ranked second in the HCAC with 99.8 yards per game and 10 touchdowns on the ground last fall, while adding 125.7 yards per game and eight scores via his arm.  The Yellow Jackets also return running back Drew Kuesel (Deshler, Ohio/Patrick Henry) to the lineup.  Kuesel ranked third in the league during the 2010 season, averaging 87.8 yards rushing with six touchdowns in eight games played.  On the defensive side of the ball the Jackets will have to fill the void left by HCAC Defensive Player of the Year Kyle Longsdorf.  DC returns senior Joemese Scott (Oviedo, Fla./H.S.) to anchor the defensive line.  The senior notched a team-high 12.0 tackles for loss and 10 sacks a year ago.  Defiance will open the season at home against Muskingum on September 3.

Hanover finished second alongside Defiance in the conference last season with a 6-2 conference record, finishing 7-3 overall.  The Panthers ranked second in the HCAC in scoring offense (29.3 ppg) and ranked third in total offense (364.2 ypg) a year ago.  Hanover suffered a loss on the offensive side of the ball this summer when preseason First-Team All-American wide receiver Daniel Passafiume (Louisville, Ky./St. Xavier) was diagnosed with mononucleosis and related health complications.  The senior will return to the field next fall for the 2012 season.  The Panthers return quarterback C.J. Croft (Ft. Campbell, Ky./H.S.) after a successful junior season.  Croft ranked fourth in the HCAC, averaging 174.9 yards per game with 18 touchdowns through the air.  He also added a team-high 48.7 rushing yards per game with seven scores.  The Panthers return a pair of All-HCAC First-Team defensive members this fall.  Junior linebacker Andy Dalton (Guilford, Ind./East Central) and senior defensive back Rory Mannering (Walton, Ind./Lewis Cass) will look to lead the defensive unit.  Dalton led the team with 116 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, and two interceptions, while Mannering added 68 tackles with three interceptions.  Hanover opens the season against Centre September 3.

Mount St. Joseph finished fifth in the league standings last fall with a 4-4 mark (5-5 overall).  The Lions offense ranked fifth in the HCAC during the 2010 campaign averaging 329.0 yards of offense per game.  Junior running back James Clay (Louisville, Ky./Manual Dupont) led the squad on the ground last fall, averaging 48.4 yards per game on the ground with three scores.  Senior offensive lineman Joe Noble (Cincinnati, Ohio/Colerain) is the lone returning All-HCAC First Team performer from last year’s team.  The Mount defense ranked third in the HCAC a season ago, allowing only 20.5 points and 332.8 yards per game.  MSJ will open the season at Wilmington on September 3.

Rose-Hulman finished fourth in the standings last fall, finishing 5-3 in league action and 6-4 overall.  The Engineers return First-Team All-HCAC running back Kyle Kovach (Munster, Ind./Andrean) after a successful sophomore campaign.  Kovach led the HCAC on the ground a year ago, tallying 1,056 yards and 11 touchdowns on 181 carries.  He averaged 105.6 yards per game to lead the conference.  As a team, RHIT ranked third in the HCAC with 27.7 points per game and ranked second in rushing offense (193.7 ypg).  Senior kicker Nick Schneider (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) returns after leading the HCAC with nine made field goals last fall.  The senior converted nine of his 13 field goal attempts and 32 of his 36 extra points as a junior.  Rose-Hulman will open the schedule at home against DePauw on September 3.

Anderson finished in a tie for sixth with Bluffton in the HCAC with a 3-5 record and posted a 3-7 mark overall.  The Ravens will look to improve upon last year’s defense that ranked seventh overall in total defense (400.9 ypg).  AU returns All-HCAC First-Team defensive back Jared Millikan (New Castle, Ind./H.S.) after earning D3football.com All-North Region First-Team honors last fall.  Millikan led the nation with 11 interceptions and three interception return for touchdowns as a junior and was named preseason All-American by D3football.com.  The Ravens return the core of the offensive unit and will look to maintain the HCAC’s second ranked offense (367.8 ypg) in 2011.  Sophomore running back Marcus Spann (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern) averaged 116.2 yards per game with five touchdowns in only six games played last fall.  The offense will be directed by senior quarterback Nick Sharp (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central) after losing Mitch Grider to graduation.  Anderson kicks off the season under the lights at rival Taylor on Thursday, September 1.

Bluffton finished 4-6 overall last season with a conference mark of 3-5.  The Beavers finished the season ranked seventh among HCAC schools in scoring offense (18.7 ppg) and seventh in scoring defense (33.6 ppg).  BU returns a pair of First-Team All-HCAC members to the squad this fall.  Senior defensive lineman Justin Crosier (Columbus, Ohio/Hamilton Township) led the Beavers with 63 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, and eight sacks in 2010.  Senior wide receiver/returner Todd Trotter (Cincinnati, Ohio/Aiken University) led BU in all-purpose yards last fall (987 yards), averaging 98.7 yards per game via the passing and return game.  Bluffton hosts Kalamazoo on September 3 to open the season.

Manchester College placed eighth in the HCAC with a 1-7 mark (2-8 overall).  The Spartans offense ranked seventh (324.2 ypg) overall in the HCAC, while the defense posted an eighth place ranking (406.3 ypg).  Senior defensive back Brecken Kennedy (North Manchester, Ind./Manchester) is the lone returning First-Team All-HCAC member from last season’s squad.  Kennedy led the black and gold with 133 tackles and nine interceptions, while adding 5.5 tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries.  Senior quarterback Justin Minnich (Ft. Wayne, Ind./Carroll) returns to lead the Spartans offense.  Minnich completed 54.4% of his passes for 1,826 yards and five touchdowns, while adding 509 yards and eight scores via the ground.  Manchester opens the season Thursday, September 1 against Trine.

Earlham finished 0-10 overall last season with a conference mark of 0-8.  The Quakers ranked last in the HCAC in total offense and total defense last fall and will look to improve on those numbers in their second season as a conference member.  EC will travel to Sewanee on opening weekend.

The first weekend of the 2011 season is on September 3 with the conference season slated to begin on September 17.

Players to Watch

 

Anderson

Nick Sharp

Senior

Quarterback

Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central

 
 

Marcus Spann

Sophomore

Running Back

Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern

 

Joe Davidson

Senior

Wide Receiver

Brookville, Ind./Franklin Co.

 

Adam Rue

Senior

Offensive Line

Vandalia, Ohio/Butler

 
 

Leonard Wells

Senior

Defensive Line

Warsaw, Ind./H.S.

 
 

Kaleb Donahue

Senior

Linebacker

Carmel, Ind./Heritage Christian

 
 

Jared Millikan

Senior

Defensive Back

New Castle, Ind./H.S.

 
 

Bill Huntsinger

Senior

Linebacker

Frankton, Ind./H.S.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Bluffton

Todd Trotter

Senior

Wide Receiver

Cincinnati, Ohio/Aiken University

 
 

Justin Crosier

Senior

Defensive Line

Columbus, Ohio/Hamilton Township

 

Chris Byrd

Senior

Quarterback

Detroit, Mich./Detroit University Prep

 

Russell Krouse

Senior

Offensive Line

Huntsville, Ohio/Indian Lake

 
 

Steve Sealscott

Senior

Defensive Back

Van Wert, Ohio/H.S.

 
 

Shane Hubbard

Senior

Linebacker

Johnstown, Ohio/Big Walnut

 
 

Jason A. Johnson

Senior

Wide Receiver

Lansing, Mich./Eastern

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Defiance

Rick Powell

Senior

Quarterback

Rochester, Mich./Cousino

 
 

Drew Kuesel

Senior

Running Back

Deshler, Ohio/Patrick Henry

 

Andy Cessna

Senior

Tight End

Warren, Mich./Cousino

 

Ryan Black

Senior

Offensive Line

Harrod, Ohio/Allen East

 
 

Joemese Scott

Senior

Defensive Line

Oviedo, Fla./H.S.

 
 

Tony Sierra

Junior

DB/Returner

Warren, Mich./Cousino

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Earlham

Chad Wertman

Senior

Defensive Line

Holland, Ind./Southridge

 
 

Josh Lewis

Senior

Defensive Line

Newburgh, Ind./Castle

 

Collin Draine

Senior

Linebacker

Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison

 

Dakota McElley

Junior

Defensive Back

Lawrenceburg, Ind./H.S.

 

Dorian Stroud

Sophomore

Defensive Back

South Bend, Ind./Adams

 

T.J. Sanders

Junior

Offensive Line

Depauw, Ind./North Harrison

 

Bryan James

Sophomore

Offensive Line

Upland, Ind./Eastbrook

 

Jaysn Murphy

Senior

Wide Receiver

 

Winchester, Ind./H.S.

 
 
 
 

 

 
 

Franklin

Reece Craig

Senior

Running Back

Bedford, Ind./North Lawrence

 
 

Mitch Deffner

Junior

Wing Back

Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove

 

Kyle Linville

Junior

Split End

Speedway, Ind./H.S.

 

Joshua Bales

Junior

Offensive Line

Morgantown, Ind./Indian Creek

 
 

David O’Rourke

Senior

Linebacker

Evansville, Ind./Memorial

 
 

Zack Corpe

Sophomore

Defensive Back

Granger, Ind./Elkhart Memorial

 
 

Tyler Huls

Senior

Defensive Back

Salem, Ind./H.S.

 
 

Zach Ruark

Junior

Defensive Back

Indianapolis, Ind./Perry Meridian

 
 
 

Hanover

Andy Dalton

Junior

Linebacker

Guilford, Ind./East Central

 
 

Matt Money

Senior

Offensive Line

Oakwood, Ohio/H.S.

 

Rory Mannering

Senior

Defensive Back

Walton, Ind./Lewis Cass

 

C.J. Croft

Junior

Quarterback

Fort Campbell, Ky./H.S.

 
 

Jeremy Cook

Senior

Running Back

Batesville, Ind./H.S.

 
 

Neal Ploeger

Senior

Defensive Line

Greensburg, Ind./North Decatur

 
 

Matt Sieg

Senior

Defensive Line

Anderson, Ind./Highland

 
 

Colton Zeck

Junior

Wide Receiver

Galveston, Ind./Lewis Cass

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Manchester

Brecken Kennedy

Senior

Defensive Back

North Manchester, Ind./Manchester

 
 

Ryan McKee

Senior

Linebacker

Elkhart, Ind./Concord

 

Justin Minnich

Senior

Quarterback

Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll

 

Dylan Snyder

Senior

Linebacker

Greenfield, Ind./Central

 
 

Kurt Monix

Junior

WR/QB

Crown Point, Ind./Lowell

 
 

Bobby McClintock

Senior

Wide Receiver

South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s

 
 

Dylin Kennedy

Sophomore

Linebacker

North Manchester, Ind./Manchester

 
 
 
 
 

The Mount

Joe Noble

Senior

Offensive Line

Cincinnati, Ohio/Colerain

 
 

Rob Bowman

Senior

Offensive Line

New Richmond, Ohio/H.S.

 

Sean Keller

Senior

Wide Receiver

Maineville, Ohio/Kings

 

Jimmy Dan Conners

Senior

WR/RB

Cincinnati, Ohio/Oak Hills

 
 

Rob Blundred

Junior

Tight End

Cincinnati, Ohio/Oak Hills

 
 

James Clay

Junior

Running Back

Louisville, Ky./Manual Dupont

 
 

Zach Gerber

Senior

Wide Receiver

Payne, Ohio/Wayne Trace

 
 

Brett Hambrick

Senior

Defensive End

Cincinnati, Ohio/Elder

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Rose-Hulman

Kie Bates

Sophomore

Offensive Line

Indianapolis, Ind./Ben Davis

 
 

Brad D’Agnillo

Senior

Defensive Back

Cincinnati, Ohio/Colerain

 
 

Matt Green

Senior

Defensive Back

Cincinnati, Ohio/LaSalle

 
 

Jeff Ketchum

Senior

Offensive Line

Cincinnati, Ohio/Sycamore

 
 

Kyle Kovach

Junior

Running Back

Munster, Ind./Andrean

 
 

Nick Schneider

Senior

Kicker

Naperville, Ind./Neuqua Valley

 
 

Mitch Snyder

Junior

Quarterback

Casey, Ill./Casey-Westfield

 
 

Josh Yoder

Sophomore

Defensive Line

Carmel, Ind./H.S.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 










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