Franklin College Selected by Coaches to Win Eighth Straight HCAC Crown

Franklin College Selected by Coaches to Win Eighth Straight HCAC Crown

GREENWOOD, Ind. – Franklin College claimed their ninth Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference football title last fall, posting a 7-1 league mark.  The Grizzlies have been selected as the favorite to win an eighth-straight league crown in 2017, according to a poll of the HCAC's nine head coaches.

Franklin, who was 8-2 overall in 2016, held off Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in the preseason poll receiving 88 points and seven first place votes. Rose-Hulman placed second in the voting with 80 points and one first place vote, while Bluffton University finished third with 70 points and one first place vote.  Mount St. Joseph University (62), Hanover College (57), Defiance College (42), Manchester University (37), Anderson University (31), and Earlham College (19) round out the poll.

Along with their goal of receiving an eighth consecutive conference crown, the Grizzlies will also be going for their tenth title in 11 years under the direction of six-time HCAC Coach of the Year Mike Leonard. 

Franklin College quarterback Chase Burton (Corydon, Ind. / Corydon Central) was tabbed as the HCAC's Offensive Most Valuable Player last season after throwing 3,761 yards and 42 touchdowns. The offense has averaged 41 or more points per game the past seven seasons and will look to continue that trend this fall. Franklin will also look to replace 1st team All-HCAC running back Ty'Ronte Files.  The Grizzlies return senior wide receivers and 1stteam All-HCAC Lee Wroblewski (Salem, Ind./Paoli) and Deontez Alexander. Wroblewski hauled in 55 passes for 822 yards and 10 touchdowns last fall. Alexander is the leading returning receiver for the Grizzlies and led the team with 64 receptions for 996 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. Senior offensive linemen Samm Hayes (Indianapolis, Ind. / Center Grove) and Sam Burck (Indianapolis, Ind. / Scecina) look to anchor the offensive side of the football for the blue and gold.

The Grizzlies will begin the 2017 season on the road at Thomas More on September 2.

Around the HCAC...

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology earned a share of the conference championship with a 7-1 league record (8-3 overall).  The Fightin' Engineers earned the NCAA automatic bid by virtue of defeating Franklin 23-22 earlier this fall. The Engineers return four first-team All-HCAC selections. Rose-Hulman will return reigning HCAC Special Teams Player of the Year in senior kicker Matt Murray. Rose-Hulman will return four 1st Team All-HCAC selections along with Murray for the upcoming season. Senior linebacker Kaelen Garner (Ocean Springs, Miss./H.S.) tallied 48 tackles, ten sacks, and 14 tackles for loss. The Fightin' Engineers also return offensive lineman Parker Young (Manhattan, Ill. / Lincoln-Way Central), defensive back Alec Thompson (Clermont, Fla. / Foundation Academy), and Tyler Brutofksy (Madison, Ala. / Bob Jones). Rose-Hulman will travel to Illinois College on September 2 to open the season.

Bluffton University finished fourth in the HCAC standings last fall with a 5-3 mark (7-3 overall).  The Beavers return reigning HCAC Defensive MVP junior Isaac Zickafoose (Middlebury, Ind. / Northridge) in 2017.  Bluffton returns three 1st team All-HCAC honorees this upcoming season.  Zickafoose tallied 46 tackles, 11.5 sacks, and 20 tackles for loss as a sophomore last season.  Senior wide receiver Micah Roberson (Ada, Ohio / Ada) hauled in 98 catches for 1,030 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. Bluffton will open the season on the road at Wooster on September 2.

Mount St. Joseph University finished third in the conference standings in 2016, finishing the conference campaign with a 6-2 record and a 6-4 overall mark. Sophomore quarterback Chaiten Tomlin (Mt. Orab, Ohio / Western Brown) was tabbed as the HCAC Freshman of the Year last season. The honorable mention All-HCAC selection finished the season with 2,356 yards and 28 touchdowns with 61.1 pass completion percentage. MSJ also returns first-team All-HCAC selections Garrett Weaver (Cincinnati, Ohio / Amelia), Cole Tepe (Cincinnati, Ohio / Elder), and Tyler Hannah (Cincinnati, Ohio / Summit Country Day). Mount St. Joseph will open the season at Capital on September 2.

Hanover College finished alongside Defiance in the league standings last fall with a 4-4 mark (4-6 overall).  The Panthers return two second-team All-HCAC selections to the offensive side of the football in 2017.  Senior running back Justin Conners (Harrison, Ohio / William Henry Harrison) totaled 490 yards and six touchdowns to lead the Panthers' offensive unit.  Senior offensive lineman Jacob Sofronko (Ridgeville, Ind. / Winchester) returns to hold the offensive line for the upcoming season. Hanover will host Centre on Saturday, September 2 to open the season.

Defiance College finished in a tie for fifth in the HCAC with a 4-4 record and a 5-5 overall record.  Sophomore wide receiver DeVonte' Cravin (Ama, La. / Hahnville) was a first-team All-HCAC selection as a freshman, leading the team with 397 return yards last season. Senior defensive back Markell Moncrief also earned a 1st team All-HCAC spot as a junior with four interceptions and 63 tackles. The Yellow Jackets will kick off the season at home against Baldwin Wallace University on Saturday, September 2.

Manchester University finished seventh place in the standings last season, finishing 2-6 in league action and 2-8 overall.  The Spartans return two second-team All-HCAC members to the lineup this season.  Senior linebacker Jack Kay (Williamsport, Ind. / Seeger) tallied 97 tackles, and 5 tackles for loss along with 1.5 sacks.  Junior defensive back Dillon Nelson (Fairland, Ind. / Triton Central) pulled in three interceptions last season along with 38 tackles.  Manchester kicks off the season on Thursday, August 31 on the road against Trine.

Anderson University eighth in the standings a year ago with a 1-7 league record (1-9 overall). Sophomore Jarrett Dickey (Hammond, Ind. / Morton) returns to lead the offense this fall. Dickey earned 1st Team All-HCAC honors as a freshman last season, averaging 16.7 yards per catch with six touchdowns as a wide receiver. The wide receiver also tallied 49 catches for a total of 818 yards last season.  Anderson opens the season at home against North Park University on September 2.

Earlham College finished the 2016 season 0-8 in league play and 0-10 overall.  The Quakers return four 2nd Team All-HCAC selections from last season. Senior quarterback Wesley Hundley (Gardnerville, Nev. / Douglass) threw for 721 yards and five touchdowns last season with a 48.3 pass completion percentage. Senior wide receiver Marcaus Cooper (Palm Coast, Fla. / Matanzas), offensive lineman Roderick Matthews (Pierson, Fla. / Taylor), and sophomore punter Jordan Christian (Richmond, Ind. / Richmond) also return to the Quakers roster this fall. Earlham is led by 2015 HCAC Coach of the Year Nick Johnson who is in his third year as head football coach at Earlham. The Quakers will open the season at Wilmington (Ohio) on September 2.

The first weekend of the 2017 season is on September 2 with the conference season slated to begin on September 16.

Players to Watch


    OJ Osborne     Sophomore
    Offensive Line
      Joe Everett     Sophomore
    Wide Receiver
      Dayan Smith     Junior     Offensive Line
      Alex Dickey     Senior     Defensive Line
      Kreevon Maple     Sophomore
    Defensive Back
      Kreed Switzer     Sophomore
    Defensive Back
      Charles Keith     Sophomore
    Wide Receiver
Bluffton     Ian O'Donnell     Junior     Offensive Line
      Ethan Williams     Junior
    Offensive Line
      Colby Speice     Senior     Quarterback
      Micah Roberson     Senior     Wide Receiver
      Lucas Espitia     Junior
    Wide Receiver
      Isaac Zickafoose     Junior
    Defensive Line
      Gino Spadaro     Senior     Linebacker
      Tyler Showalter     Junior
    Defensive Back
      Jordan Watkins     Senior     Kicker
Defiance     Tyler Gillig     Senior     Tight End
      Greg Ward     Senior     Defensive Line
      Dan Delorieux     Senior     Defensive Line
      Jalin Nealy     Junior     Linebacker
      Markell Moncrief     Senior     Linebacker
      Casey Helton     Junior     Offensive Line
      DeVonte' Cravin     Sophomore     Wide Receiver
      Reed Guerin     Senior     Offensive Line
Earlham     Marcaus Cooper     Senior     Wide Receiver
      Wes Hundley     Senior     Quarterback
      Roderick Matthews     Senior     Offensive Line
      Jacob Breen     Senior     Offensive Line
      Dakota Fields     Senior     Defensive Line
      Eric Bryant     Senior     Defensive Back
      Jordan Christian     Sophomore     Defensive Back/Punter
      Kobe Walker     Sophomore     Linebacker
Franklin     Chase Burton     Senior     Quarterback
      Ryan Conner     Senior     Defensive Back
      Zach Turner     Senior
    Defensive Line
      Jared Wesley     Senior
      Lee Wroblewski     Senior
    Wide Receiver
      Tanner Wroblewski     Senior     Wide Receiver
      Jordan Brown     Senior     Running Back
      Nathan Adams     Senior     Defensive Line
Hanover     Justin Conners     Senior     Running Back
      Zach Donan     Junior     Linebacker
      Chase Lightfoot     Senior     Quarterback
      Jacob Sofronko     Senior     Offensive Line
      Layne Harnishfeger     Senior     Defensive Line
      Zach Dauer     Senior     Defensive Line
      Jackson Daugherty     Sophomore     Wide Receiver
      Taylor Bleistein     Sophomore     Wide Receiver
Manchester     Dakota Nelson     Senior     Wide Receiver
      Dillon Nelson     Junior     Defensive Back
      Austin Roberts     Sophomore     Wide Receiver
      Eric Beard     Senior     Offensive Line
      Jack Kay     Senior     Linebacker
      Mitchell Oskam     Senior     Linebacker
      Brady Nyland     Junior     Offensive Line
      Bailey Partington     Senior     Wide Receiver
MSJ     Nolan Miller     Senior     Defensive Line
      Tyler Hannah     Junior     Defensive Back
      Tavon Robertson     Junior     Defensive Back
      Chaiten Tomlin     Sophomore     Quarterback
      A.J. Glines     Junior     Wide Receiver
      Colby Webb     Senior     Linebacker
      Jerry Porter     Junior     Kicker/Punter
      Cole Tepe     Junior     Offensive Line
Rose-Hulman     Alec Thompson     Senior     Cornerback
      Kaelen Garner     Senior     Linebacker
      Tyler Brutofsky     Senior     Defensive Back
      Mike Henry     Senior
      Matt Murray     Senior     Kicker
      Stanley Hogan     Senior     Running Back
      Parker Young     Senior     Offensive Line
      Kevin Dufauchard     Senior     Running Back