TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology football team has been picked to finish second in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference this season, in a preseason poll of league coaches released August 9.
Rose-Hulman earned a share of the HCAC championship and made its first NCAA Division III Playoff appearance last year by finishing 8-3 overall and 7-1 in HCAC play. The Fightin' Engineers defeated Franklin College last October to earn the NCAA bid by a tiebreak over the Grizzlies.
Franklin has been picked as the preseason league favorite with seven first-place votes and 88 poll points. Rose-Hulman received one first-place vote and tallied 80 poll points. Bluffton was picked third with 70 points and the remaining first-place vote.
The remainder of the preseason poll included Mount St. Joseph in fourth, followed by Hanover, Defiance, Manchester, Anderson and Earlham.
Rose-Hulman was ranked No. 23 in the Street & Smith's preseason Top 25 poll this season. The 2017 Rose-Hulman football team should be another veteran crew with high expectations.
Rose-Hulman is projected to return five offensive, seven defensive starters and the HCAC Special Teams Player of the Year from the 2016 squad. The team ranked among the HCAC leaders in total offense (404.8 ypg) and scoring offense (32.2 ppg), while leading the conference in scoring defense (18.9 ppg), sacks (38) and defensive touchdowns (4).
Reigning HCAC Coach of the Year Jeff Sokol returns an experienced crew featuring eight returning all-conference players, led by preseason All-American selection Alec Thompson. Other all-league returnees for this year include defensive back Tyler Brutofsky; running back Stanley Hogan; tight end Michael Iacono; linebacker Kaelen Garner; linebacker Mike Henry; offensive lineman Parker Young; and Special Teams Player of the Year Matt Murray.
The 2017 season begins with a road game Sept. 2 at Illinois College, followed by a three-game September homestand against Millikin, Hanover and Defiance. Other home games include a Homecoming matchup with Mount St. Joseph on Oct. 7, and a Senior Day contest against Franklin on Oct. 21.
2017 HCAC FOOTBALL PRESEASON POLL
|Finish||Team||First Place Votes||2016 Overall Record||2016 HCAC Record|
|4||Mount St. Joseph||62||6-4||6-2|