2014 HCAC Football Preseason Poll
August 6, 2014Earlham College Broadcast Sports
GREENWOOD, IN - Franklin College claimed their sixth Heartland Collegiate Athletic
Conference football title last fall, sharing the title with Rose-Hulman after each
posted a 7-1 league mark. The Grizzlies have been selected as the favorite to win
a fifth-straight league crown in 2014, according to a poll of the HCAC's nine head
2014 HCAC Preseason Poll
Franklin 79 (7)
Mount St. Joseph 65 (2)
Franklin, who was 8-4 overall in 2013, held off Mount St. Joseph University in the
preseason poll receiving 79 points and seven first place votes. Mount placed second
in the voting with 65 points and the final two first place votes, while Hanover
College finished third with 50 points. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (48),
Defiance College (48), Bluffton University (43), Manchester University (34), Earlham
College (26), and Anderson University (12) round out the poll.
Along with their goal of receiving a fifth consecutive conference crown and NCAA
Division III playoff berth, the Grizzlies will also be going for their seventh title
in eight years under the direction of five-time HCAC Coach of the Year Mike Leonard.
The No. 25 ranked Grizzlies (D3football.com) return 12 starters, including nine on
the offensive side of the ball. Senior quarterback Grant Welp (Ferdinand,
Ind./Forest Park) will take over under center for the Grizzlies after losing Jonny
West to graduation. The Grizzlies will also look to replace All-American wide
receiver Kyle Linville. Senior wide receivers Zach Cole (Middletown,
Ind./Shenandoah) and Jonny Hession (Speedway, Ind./H.S.) will look to replace the
production from Linville. Cole hauled in 46 passes for 518 yards and eight
touchdowns last fall, while Hession added 44 receptions for 544 yards and five
scores. Junior offensive lineman Austin Carlton (Evansville, Ind./F.J. Reitz) looks
to anchor the offensive front and was named a D3football.com Preseason All-American
Franklin's defense returns three starters, including 2013 honorable mention All-HCAC
selection junior Nate Bryan (Greencastle, Ind./North Putnam). Senior defensive back
Jameson Brock (Noblesville, Ind./H.S.) has been a multiple-year starter. The
Grizzlies ranked fourth nationally last season in rushing defense (72.9 yards per
Bryan tallied 59 tackles, including 15 stops in the backfield. Sophomore Keaton
Lyons (Rensselaer, Ind./Rensselaer Central) recorded 3.5 sacks and 42 tackles from
the linebacker unit.
Franklin fell in the second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs 33-3 at
Wisconsin-Whitewater last November. It was the third straight year FC fell in the
second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs.
The Grizzlies will begin the 2014 season at Illinois Wesleyan on September 6.
Mount St. Joseph University finished third in the conference standings in 2013,
finishing the conference campaign with a 6-2 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. The Mount ranked third in the HCAC in total offense (376.2 ypg) and second
in scoring offense (35.8 ppg) during league play last season. Senior wide receiver
Leonard Riston (Cincinnati, Ohio/Withrow) led the team with 58 receptions for 765
yards and four touchdowns last fall, earning first-team All-HCAC honors. MSJ also
returns first-team All-HCAC selections Brandon Keller (Flowery Branch, Ga./H.S.) and
Shane Kelly (Cincinnati, Ohio/Turpin). Keller was a first-team selection on the
offensive line, while Kelly earned HCAC Special Teams MVP honors. Kelly scored 68
points for the Lions last season, converting a school-record 11-of-13 field goals
and 35-of-39 extra points. Mount St. Joseph will open the season at home against
Augustana on September 6.
Hanover College placed fourth in the league standings last fall with a 5-3 mark (5-5
overall). The Panthers return a first-team All-HCAC selection to the offensive and
defensive side of the football in 2014. Senior running back Spencer Corrao (New
Albany, Ind./Our Lady of Providence) led the team with 684 yards and six touchdowns
on 142 carries last fall to lead the offense. Junior defensive lineman Jake
Stilwell (Pendleton, Ind./Pendleton Heights) enters 2014 as a D3football.com
Preseason All-American. As a sophomore, Stilwell totaled 50 tackles, 15 sacks, 18
tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles to lead the Panthers' defensive unit.
Hanover will travel to Centre on Saturday, September 6 to open the season.
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology earned the school's first football conference
title since 1988 last fall, finishing alongside Franklin with a 7-1record in HCAC
contests (7-3 overall). The Engineers will look to replace three first-team
All-HCAC selections, including quarterback Ryan Landwehr, on the field this fall.
RHIT ranked second in the HCAC in total offense (426.1 ypg) a year ago. Junior wide
receivers Jacob Dye (Tipton, Ind./H.S.) and Aaron Abbott (Lebanon, Ohio/H.S.) led
the team's receiving efforts during the championship season. Dye hauled in 47
passes for 501 yards and a touchdown, while Abbott added 40 receptions for 451 yards
and seven scores. On defense, sophomore defensive back Kevin Nowak (Naperville,
Ill./Central) returns after leading the team with 77 tackles and four interceptions,
earning second-team All-HCAC honors as a freshman. Rose-Hulman will travel to
Kalamazoo on September 6 to open the season.
Defiance College finished in a tie for sixth in the HCAC with a 3-5 record and a 3-7
overall record. The Yellow Jackets defensive unit ranked second in the HCAC in both
scoring (21.1 ppg) and total defense (266.5 ypg) during league play last fall. DC
will look to replace HCAC Defensive Player of the Year Tony Sierra. Junior
defensive back Andrew Feldhaus (Lutz, Fla./Steinbrenner) was a first-team All-HCAC
selection as a sophomore, tallying 83 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, six forced
fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and five interceptions. The Jackets offense ranked
fourth in yards and sixth in scoring during the 2013 season. Sophomore quarterback
Alex Larson (Highland, Mich./Milford) threw for 1,303 yards with nine touchdowns and
nine interceptions as a freshman. The Yellow Jackets will kick off the season at
home on September 6 against Adrian.
Bluffton University finished fifth in the HCAC standings last fall with a 4-4 mark
(4-6 overall). The Beavers return three key pieces to the offensive unit in 2014.
Quarterback Nick Sheehan (Monroeville, Ind./Heritage), running back Eric Fox
(Brunswick, Ohio/H.S.), and wide receiver Donovan Brown (Cincinnati, Ohio/Purcell
Marian) all return for their senior season this fall. Fox was a first-team All-HCAC
selection as a kick returner last season, while Brown earned second-team honors
after hauling in 44 passes for 676 yards and 10 touchdowns. Senior linebacker Wyatt
Herman (Edgerton, Ohio/H.S.) is the leading returning tackler for the Beavers after
earning 56 stops with five tackles for loss a year ago. Bluffton will open the
season at home against Ohio Wesleyan on September 6.
Manchester University finished alongside Defiance for sixth place in the standings,
finishing 3-5 in league action and 3-7 overall. The Spartans return HCAC Freshman
of the Year Dakota Nelson (Fairland, Ind./Triton Central) to the lineup this season.
Nelson led the team in receiving with 56 catches for 582 yards and four scores as a
freshman and totaled 1,260 all-purpose yards to lead the Spartans. Manchester kicks
off the 2014 season on Friday, September 5 at home against Trine.
Earlham College placed eighth in the HCAC with a 1-7 mark (2-8 overall). The Quakers
return its two top offensive players from the 2013 season. Junior wide receiver
Jalen Kenner (Reserve, La./East St. John) caught 73 passes for 979 yards and six
touchdowns, earning first-team All-HCAC honors. Senior running back Trey Stephens
(Terre Haute, Ind./South) led the Quakers ground attack with 495 yards and three
touchdowns on 120 carries. Earlham will open the season at home against Denison
Anderson University finished 0-10 overall last season with a conference mark of 0-8.
The Ravens offense ranked last in the HCAC during the conference season in scoring
offense (12.6 ppg) and total offense (272.2 ypg). AU will look to improve upon
those numbers and move up the league standings in 2014. Anderson opens the season
at home against rival Taylor on September 6.