Franklin, Ind. - Franklin College's 2014 football team has earned the nation's No. 12 preseason ranking among NCAA Division III teams in Lindy's Sports' college football preview issue. This marks the fourth straight year that the Grizzlies have been ranked in a preseason poll.
Franklin, coached by Mike Leonard, won eight games and captured its fourth consecutive Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) championship last fall. The team defeated Washington University-St. Louis 17-10 in a home first-round playoff game – marking the third straight season with a postseason victory.
Leonard enters his 11th season at Franklin with an 84-37 career record, including a 63-18 mark and a 50-3 record in the HCAC over the past seven seasons.
The Grizzlies return 14 starters and six All-HCAC players from last year's team. Key returnees include junior offensive lineman Austin Carlton (Evansville, Ind./F.J. Reitz), senior wing backs Zach Cole (Middletown, Ind./Shenandoah) and Jonny Hession (Speedway, Ind./Speedway), senior running back Joey Pasquale (Noblesville, Ind./Noblesville), junior defensive lineman Nate Bryan (Greencastle, Ind./North Putnam) and senior defensive back Jameson Brock (Noblesville, Ind./Noblesville).
Franklin opens the 2014 season at Illinois Wesleyan University on September 6 at 2 p.m. The team's home opener is against defending national champion University of Wisconsin-Whitewater on September 13 at 1:30 p.m. from Faught Stadium.