By James Polston
The football team cinched an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III playoffs after winning its sixth straight conference championship.
The team defeated Defiance College 35-7 on Senior Day last Saturday, placing first in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference.
The players have another big game tomorrow as they travel to Hanover College for the annual Victory Bell Classic, one of the nation’s most prestigious NCAA Division III rivalries.
The Grizzlies look to win their 10th straight Victory Bell Classic in their final regular season game of the season. Hanover leads the all-time series 42-38-3 since the first matchup in 1898.
“This rivalry means a lot to me and this school,” senior linebacker Lucas Windell said. “It’s a tradition, and there’s nothing better than beating Hanover and ringing that Victory Bell.”
Hanover hopes to hand Franklin its second conference loss in six seasons and first loss in conference play since 2013.
“Hanover is down this year,” Windell said. “We still have to prepare hard this week because it’s football and nothing is guaranteed.”
Franklin has clinched the league’s automatic bid for the Division III playoffs for the eighth time in the last nine seasons. The Grizzlies plan on treating this week’s game like any other week.
“In terms of preparing for playoffs, we will prepare like we do every week,” Windell said. “This game is just a stepping-stone to get to where we want to be.”
The team will travel to Hanover College tomorrow for the 84th Victory Bell Classic with kickoff scheduled for 1:30 p.m.