A poll named Franklin College’s football team as the best college football program in Indiana.
The poll, released by Hero Sports, chose the best football program for each state.
The organization used national championships, conference championships, playoff appearances, win-loss records and individual awards from the past five seasons as the criteria they looked for in teams playing in all four athletic divisions.
Some teams chosen in the poll included the University of Alabama, Florida State University and the University of Oklahoma.
“It’s an honor to represent Indiana as the best program in the state,” said Matt Shoufler, junior linebacker. “We have been working really hard for years, and it’s paying off year after year.”
In the past three seasons, the Grizzlies haven’t lost more than three games. With a record of 8-2 last year, the team is hoping for another successful season.
“This is a special group of guys we have, and we have the talent to go really far this season,” Shoulfer said.
Head Coach Mike Leonard, who has been at Franklin’s helm for 14 years, said that winning this title all comes down to five main ingredients: support from the school, a great group of coaches, good players, a very involved booster club and a good atmosphere.
For Leonard, there is no pressure to keep this title.
“Really the intent is not about this honor, the intent is trying to win football games,” Leonard said. “If you win more games, then these honors will come.”
Even though Leonard considers winning great, he would rather have his players learn the lessons that athletics teach and to build friendships.
Freshman cornerback Damien Miller chose Franklin College because he said it was a great school academically and athletically.
“We all have to work hard, do our best at practice, give each other the best looks we can and give it all we’ve got,” Miller said.
Miller said he views the announcement as a great honor, but it isn’t what it’s all about.
“People will come to watch, some to see you succeed, and some to see you fail, but no matter who comes, we will be out there to play football,” Miller said.
Leonard would also like to see the football team achieve a completely different goal than winning an athletic poll.
“We hope that anybody who comes and watches us play gets inspired positively somehow, by watching our guys play, that’s the hope,” Leonard said.