Franklin College is Coaches' Favorite to Repeat as HCAC Football Champions
August 1, 2012INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
GREENWOOD, IN - Franklin College claimed their fourth Heartland Collegiate
Athletic Conference football title last fall, boasting an 8-0 conference
mark for the second straight season. The Grizzlies have been selected as
the favorite to win a third-straight league crown in 2012, according to a
poll of the HCAC's nine head coaches.
2012 HCAC Preseason Poll
1.Franklin 79 (7)
2. Mount St. Joseph 67 (2)
3. Hanover 62
4. Bluffton 48
7. Manchester 34
8. Anderson 21
9. Earlham 15
Franklin, who was 10-2 overall in 2011, held off Mount St. Joseph in the
preseason poll receiving 79 points and seven first place votes.
The College of Mount St. Joseph placed second in the voting with 67 points
and the final two first place votes, while Hanover College finished third
with 62 points. Bluffton University (48), Defiance College (41),
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (38), Manchester University (34),
Anderson University (21), and Earlham College (15) round out the poll.
Along with their goal of receiving a third consecutive conference crown and
NCAA Division III playoff berth, Franklin will also be going for their fifth
title in six years under the direction of five-time Coach of the Year Mike
The No. 13 ranked Grizzlies (D3football.com) will be directed on offense by
HCAC Offensive Most Valuable Player Jonny West (Avon, Ind./Speedway). The
junior quarterback earned Second-Team All-North Region honors from
D3football.com as a sophomore and will look for bigger and better things
this fall. West led the HCAC in completion percentage (60.8%), touchdowns
(32), and passing yards per game (298.4) last fall. The Grizzlies also
return their top receiver from last season as Kyle Linville (Speedway,
Ind./H.S.) comes back for his junior season. Linville led the league with
84 receptions, 11 touchdown grabs, and 1,226 receiving yards as a sophomore.
The blue and gold offensive attack was the most feared in the HCAC last
season, averaging 38.5 points and 449.0 yards per game.
Franklin's defense will try to replace the 2011 HCAC Defensive Most Valuable
Player David O'Rourke. The senior led the HCAC in sacks and anchored the
Grizzlies defensive line. This fall, junior defensive back Zack Corpe
(Granger, Ind./Elkhart) returns after earning First-Team All-HCAC honors as
a sophomore. Corpe tallied 30 tackles, an interception, and two forced
fumbles last fall. In conference play, the Franklin defense led the HCAC in
scoring defense (17.9 ppg) and ranked fourth in total defense (332.1 ypg).
Franklin fell in the second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs 41-14 at
eventual national champion Wisconsin-Whitewater last November.
FC will begin the 2012 season at home against No. 2 ranked Mount Union on
Mount St. Joseph finished in a tie for second in the conference standings in
2011, finishing the conference campaign with a 5-3 record and a 6-4 overall
mark. The Lions will look to compete for a league title this fall and put
an end to Franklin's reign. Senior running back James Clay (Louisville,
Ky./Manual Dupont) returns to lead the Mount offense after a great junior
season. Clay averaged 113.2 yards per game on the ground and led the HCAC
with 16 rushing touchdowns and 7.9 yards per carry. On the defensive side
of the ball the Lions return a pair of Second-Team All-HCAC selections.
Junior Russell Turner II (Fairfield, Ohio/H.S.) and senior Sean Brooks
(Englewood, Ohio/Northmont) come back to anchor the defensive line. Turner
II posted 47 tackles with 11.5 tackles for loss and two sacks last fall,
while Brooks added 39 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, and an
interception. Mount St. Joseph will open the season at home against
Wilmington (OH) on September 1.
Hanover College finished second alongside Mount St. Joseph, Rose-Hulman, and
Bluffton in the conference last season with a 5-3 conference record,
finishing 5-5 overall. The Panthers ranked second in the HCAC in scoring
offense (36.8 ppg), total offense (429.2 ypg), scoring defense (19.0 ppg),
and led the league in total defense (293.0 ypg) during league play last
fall. Hanover will receive a boost offensively as Preseason D3football.com
All-American wide receiver Daniel Passafiume (Louisville, Ky./St. Xavier)
returns after missing last season due to illness. Alongside Passafiume will
be 2011 First-Team All-HCAC selection Dwayne Eubanks (Mitchell, Ind./H.S.).
The junior receiver averaged 76.6 yards per game and racked up 10 touchdowns
last fall. Senior linebacker Andy Dalton (Guilford, Ind./East Central) will
look to lead the Panthers defense after earning First-Team All-HCAC honors
as a junior. Dalton led the team with 107 tackles while adding 6.5 tackles
for loss, three sacks, and three interceptions from the linebacker position.
New head coach Steve Baudendistel and the Panthers open the season on
September 1 at Illinois College.
Bluffton University also finished second in the league standings last fall
with a 5-3 mark (5-5 overall). The Beavers offense ranked fifth in the HCAC
during the 2011 campaign, averaging 347.9 yards per game. BU will look to
replace all seven First and Second-Team All-HCAC selections from last fall.
Senior Tyler Wright (Troy, Ohio/H.S.) will take over full time duty as
quarterback of the Beavers after splitting time with Christopher Byrd last
season. Wright completed 60.5% of his passes for 579 yards and five
touchdowns, while adding 39.3 yards per game and six touchdowns via the
ground game. The Bluffton defense ranked sixth in the HCAC during league
play last year, allowing 369.2 yards per game. Senior defensive back Justin
Hahn (Rocky River, Ohio/H.S.) is the leading returning tackler after racking
up 54 stops with five tackles for loss and two interceptions in 2011.
Bluffton will open the season at home against Kenyon on September 1.
Defiance College finished sixth in the standings last fall, finishing 4-4 in
league action and 4-6 overall. The Yellow Jackets, under the direction of
new head coach Brian Sheehan, return a pair of First-Team All-HCAC players
to the defensive side of the football. Senior defensive lineman Gregg
Pickett (Cincinnati, Ohio/Glen Este) returns after totaling 52 tackles with
10 tackles for loss, five sacks, and an interception as a junior. Senior
defensive back Tony Sierra (Warren, Mich./Cousino) also totaled 52 tackles
with a pair of interceptions. The Jackets ranked third in total defense
during the conference season, allowing 330.5 yards per contest. Defiance
kicks off the 2012 season at home against Albion on September 1.
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology finished in a tie for second in the HCAC
with a 5-3 record and a 5-5 overall record. The Engineers will look to
improve upon last year's defense that ranked eighth overall in total defense
(380.2 ypg). RHIT returns All-HCAC Second-Team linebacker Ryan Gallagher
(Greenwood, Ind./H.S.) after a successful junior season. Gallagher totaled
72 tackles with 7.5 tackles for loss and two sacks last fall. Rose-Hulman
returns the main cog of the offensive unit that ranked fourth in the league
in scoring (25.8 ppg) and total offense (358.4 ypg) during league play last
season. Senior running back Kyle Kovach (Munster, Ind./Andrean) finished
the 2011 season with 1,213 yards on the ground with 11 touchdowns. The
First-Team All-HCAC running back earned a spot on the SI.com/Associated
Press Little All-America Team, becoming the first Rose-Hulman player chosen
to the squad since Carl Herakovich in 1958. The Engineers will kick off the
season on September 1 at home against Kalamazoo.
Manchester University finished 4-6 overall last season with a conference
mark of 3-5. The Spartans finished the conference season ranked seventh
among HCAC schools in scoring offense (22.0 ppg) and fourth in scoring
defense (25.0 ppg). MU returns a pair of First-Team All-HCAC members to the
squad this fall. Senior wide receiver Kurt Monix (Crown Point, Ind./Lowell)
led the black and gold as a junior with 52 receptions for 544 yards and four
touchdowns. Senior kicker Kyle Evans (Winamac, Ind./West Central) earned
the HCAC Special Teams Most Valuable Player award last fall, scoring 59
points for the Spartans. Evans connected on 12 of his 18 field goals,
ranking 15th nationally. Manchester will travel to Trine on Thursday,
August 30 to open the season.
Anderson University placed eighth in the HCAC with a 1-7 mark (1-9 overall).
The Ravens defense ranked last in the HCAC during the conference season in
scoring defense (35.1 ppg) and total defense (417.6 ypg). First year head
coach Bobby Ladner will look to improve on those numbers this fall as AU
attempts to move up the standings. Offensively, junior running back Marcus
Spann (Fishers, Ind.) returns after earning Second-Team All-HCAC honors last
fall. Spann ranked third in the HCAC last season, averaging 104.3 yards per
game on the ground with seven touchdowns. Anderson opens the season at home
against rival Taylor on September 1.
Earlham College finished 0-10 overall last season with a conference mark of
0-8. The Quakers offense ranked last in the HCAC in scoring (7.1 ppg) and
total offense (193.6 ypg). New head coach Neil Kazmierczak will look to
improve upon those numbers this fall and earn the school's first win as a
member of the HCAC. Earlham will open the season at home against Oberlin
The first weekend of the 2012 season is on September 1 with the conference
season slated to begin on September 15.
Players to Watch
Ottawa, Ohio/Ottawa Glandorf
Canal Winchester, Ohio/H.S.
Rocky River, Ohio/H.S.
Benton Harbor, Mich./Eau Claire
Cincinnati, Ohio/Glen Este
Harrod, Ohio/Allen East
Ft. Wayne, Ind./North Side
Depauw, Ind./North Harrison
New Lebanon, Ohio/Dixie
Morgantown, Ind./Indian Creek
New Castle, Ind./Shenandoah
Floyds Knobs, Ind./Floyds Central
Granger, Ind./Elkhart Memorial
Veedersburg, Ind./Fountain Central
Guilford, Ind./East Central
Lauderdale Lakes, Fla./Pompano Beach
Galveston, Ind./Lewis Cass
Fort Thomas, Ky./Highlands
Crown Point, Ind./Lowell
Winamac, Ind./West Central
N. Manchester, Ind./Manchester
South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph's
East Chicago, Ind./East Chicago Central
South Bend, Ind./Washington
Louisville, Ky./Manual Dupont
Cincinnati, Ohio/Oak Hills
Cincinnati, Ohio/Lakota West
Russell Turner II
Shelbyville, Ind./Triton Central
Chapel Hill, N.C./Carrboro
Mount Prospect, Ill./Prospect
Plano, Ill./Aurora Christian
Indianapolis, Ind./Ben Davis