From the annual homecoming pep rally and privy burn to the football matchup against Earlham College, the Franklin College community is gearing up for a busy weekend.
“Earlham is a good team,” junior wingback Lee Wroblewski said. “We can’t overlook them, and it’s homecoming, so we know a lot of people will be there.”
Head football coach Mike Leonard received an email from the athletic trainer’s office, which said only one player of the 122 team members will be out for this game—something Leonard called “pretty incredible.” Earlham has 37 players on their roster.
“This weekend is homecoming and throughout the year, we have had a really good home attendance and we are thankful for that,” Wroblewski said. “We wish everyone to come out this weekend and support us still.”
Along with the usual pregame festivities and the announcement of the 2016 Homecoming King and Queen, the Grizzlies are going for their 21st Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference victory—the sixth longest active conference winning streak in NCAA Division III.
The team has won six straight league titles.
For senior defensive lineman Devante Ash and his fellow graduating seniors, this game holds a little extra meaning.
“It’s really exciting and a little nerve-racking, just because it is our last homecoming to be a part of from this standpoint,” Ash said. “I feel like the team is ready and we are excited to play in front of our fans and everyone coming home.”
Going into this weekend, the team is 4-1 overall and 3-0 in conference play.
“We are excited at where we are sitting,” Leonard said. “If this is a race, if you will, we are kind of in position right where we thought we could be and excited for the second half of the season.”
Like all teams, coaches and players focus on what can be the most beneficial improvements on the field for the team’s overall well-being. But coaches and athletes also have to acknowledge threats to the season.
“I always relate it to pool, the game of billiards,” Leonard said. “If we just keep care of each of the balls, one at a time, but know that there is this eight ball on the table somewhere and could be the eight balls that could derail our season, so we have to be careful.”
In an early team meeting at the start of the season, the team noted discipline as a key factor.
“Having the discipline and being able to take care of things not only on the field, but making sure we are taking care of things off the field and those are the things that can derail you more than anything,” Leonard said.
Derailment factors seen on the field are bad attitudes and selfish behaviors. Leonard has instilled the thought of “to blame is to be lame” and focus more on building a positive team atmosphere and to build a family.
Fans are encouraged to wear gold this weekend to participate the team’s “Gold Out” theme to raise awareness for pediatric cancer. Kick-off is at 1:30 p.m.