GREENWOOD, Indiana-- The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference has announced the results of the pre-season coaches poll. And the Mount St. Joseph Lions football team found themselves in the middle of the preseason pack. They were picked to finish fourth in the league by the coaches.
The Grizzlies of Franklin College who have won or shared the conference championship each of the past seven seasons find themselves at the top again. Franklin received seven of the possible nine first place votes. Following Franklin in the poll was Rose-Hulman (one first place vote, 80 total points) then Bluffton (one first place vote, 70 points). The Mount St. Joseph Lions find themselves at fourth in the poll with 62 total points. Hanover, Defiance, Manchester, Anderson and Earlham round out the poll.
The Lions are set to open the 2017 season on the road at Capital on September 2nd. The Lions hope to get off to a better start to the season than the did a year ago. Last year saw them stumble out of the gate to an 0-3 start, before insering eventual HCAC Freshman of the Year quarterback Chaiten Tomlin (Mt. Orab, OH/ Western Brown) into the starting lineup. After the change the Lions won 6 of their final 7 games, even holding out hope for an HCAC championship until the final week of the season.
The Lions return a huge portion of the roster from a season ago. The defense which only allowed 22.3 points per game a season ago will be lead by first team all-HCAC selction, senior defensive end Nolan Miller (Cincinnati, OH/ Northwest). He will be joined on the defense by standouts Tyler Hannah (Cincinnati, OH/ Summit Country Day), Colby Webb (Huntington, WV/ Spring Valley) and Cory Hardin (Louisville, KY/ Ballard) amongst others.
Offensively Tomlin returns as the trigger man for the Lions and returns most of his weapons. Led by senior wideout AJ Glines (Harrison, OH/ Harrison), and running back Cory Hastings (Dayton, OH/ Carroll). They also return three starting offensive lineman, led by former Elder High School teammates Brad Murphy and Cole Tepe.
The Mount football program is entering a new era as the retirement of former head coach Rod Huber changed the course of the program. New head coach Tyler Hopperton took over the reigns of a program which was already on solid ground. Hopperton hopes to take this talented team to new heights. With a solid staff in place, and an outstanding recruiting class to go along with the returners it promises to be a special football season on the campus of Mount St. Joseph.