WEEK TWO PREVIEW | Grizzlies Set to Tangle with Albion in Home Opener

Photo courtesy of Renee Kean

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The Opening Kick
The first home game of the year is set for Saturday night, when the Grizzlies welcome Albion College to Faught Stadium for the team's lone non-conference home game of the year. 
 
Saturday night is also the annual Alumni Night at Faught Stadium. During halftime of the game, former players that suited up for the blue and gold in years past will be recognized. 
 
About Albion
For the second straight week, the Grizzlies will be facing off against a head coach in his first year with the program. Dustin Beurer (Albion '05) was promoted to head coach last December after spending the previous 10 years on staff with the Britons. Prior to assuming the head coaching duties, he was the team's assistant head coach, offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator. 
 
The Britons opened the season last Saturday, rolling past HCAC member Defiance for a 56-6 win. Although they only controlled the ball for 21:24, the Britons racked up 444 yards of offense, 292 of which came on the ground. Markell McCory finished with 153 yards on 23 carries with a touchdown. 
 
Junior quarterback Kyle Thomas went 10-for-18 for 96 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions in the win. Junior wideout Isaiah Gibson had four catches to lead the team while Justin Thomas' 78 receiving yards were tops among all pass catchers. 
 
Defensively, the Briton forced four Yellow Jacket turnovers last week and held Defiance to 153 total yards. Junior linebacker Donovan Slates led everyone with 10 tackles and returned one interception 50 yards. 
 
Last Time Out
The Grizzlies opened the year on the road, taking on Benedictine University last Saturday night. Despite out-gaining the Eagles by nearly 100 yards and recording 252 yards on the ground, the Grizzlies were done in by five turnovers in a 26-25 defeat.  
 
Home Sweet Home
Faught Stadium has been kind to the Grizzlies over the last half-decade, as Franklin has amassed a 24-7 record on their home turf since the 2014 season. 
 
Spreading the Wealth
In the opening contest, eight different Grizzlies notched at least one catch. Six of those receivers; Cole Daab, Jordy Jackson, Brock Finkbiner, Payton Healy, Landon Gessinger and Ryan Poole all set career highs for catches last weekend. 
 
Backfield in Motion
The senior group of quarterback Braden Smith and tailbacks Earl, Austin Grunden and Payton Healy give the Grizzlies a wealth of experience and talent in the backfield. Smith threw for 3,226 yards and 28 touchdowns a year ago while running for eight more. Earl rushed for over 1,000 yards and scored 18 touchdowns while Grunden and Healy combined for 527 yards and 10 scores on the ground. 
 
Double Digit Defenders
Senior Brayton Shannon and junior Evan Stambaugh anchored the Grizzlies' defense last week, recording 10 tackles each in what was the first game either defender reached double figure stops. Additionally, Stambaugh forced his first career fumble and Shannon's seven assisted tackles were a personal best. 
 
Schedule Outlook
Franklin will play a two more non-conference games before jumping into HCAC play. After this week's game, the Grizzlies will step head east to take on Bluffton in a meeting that will not count against the league standings. That game that was added to compensate for the loss of an opponent on the schedule.
 
HCAC play starts on Sept. 28 at home against league co-champions Mt. St. Joseph. Franklin also hostst Anderson, Manchester and Defiance in league play. Conference road games will be at Rose-Hulman, Bluffton and Hanover.
 
HCAC Dominance
Since the 2007 season, the Grizzlies have been dominant against the rest of the HCAC, going 88-6 over that span while claiming nine of the last 12 outright conference championships. 
 
Around the HCAC
Seven teams from the HCAC are in action on Saturday, with Mount St. Joseph on a bye week. 
 
Adrian at Hanover, 1:00 PM
Trine at Bluffton, 1:30 PM
Defiance at Hope, 1:30 PM
Cincinnati Christian at Anderson, 6 PM
Alma at Manchester, 6 PM
Rose-Hulman at Rhodes, 8 PM
 
Follow the Action Live
Saturday's game will be on GrizTV, presented by the Hubler Automotive Group. For the second straight year, Sam Weiderhaft will have all the play-by-play action. Links to the video and live stats are available at the top of the page. In-game updates will be provided on our Twitter feed, @FCGrizAthletics.