The Franklin Grizzlies claimed the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference championship and gained an automatic berth to the NCAA Division III tournament with a 31-20 victory at Manchester College Saturday.
It didn't come easily. The day was all November—chill and gray with a blustery wind—and Franklin seemed ready neither for the weather nor the energy with which Manchester took the field on their Senior Day. The Spartans quickly put ten points on the board in the first quarter, while the Grizzlies' normally potent offense was stymied. Franklin finally roused and scored fourteen in the second period to take the lead into halftime, a lead they would never relinquish. The weather conditions worsened as the second half wore on, and the teams battled back and forth, with the Grizzlies outlasting the home team in the end.
Congratulations to Coach Mike Leonard and his team for their second straight conference championship! Next Saturday, Franklin hosts Hanover for the annual Victory Bell game. Then comes selection Sunday, when the Grizzlies will learn their seeding and opponent in the tournament, which begins November 22.