Dip Gridders Crack Top 25

Dip Gridders Crack Top 25

LANCASTER, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall's football team will enter the season as the 25th ranked team in the nation according to The Sporting News. The Diplomats are coming off of a 9-2 season, that concluded with a come-from-behind, 29-24 win over Wilkes in the ECAC South Atlantic Championship game.

The Diplomats return plenty of firepower on offense and a stout front seven loaded with depth on defense.

"I think this is a good sign that the program is beginning to turn the corner," said head coach, John Troxell. "It's a tribute to the hard work put in by the players and our coaching staff, and a reminder of the hard work that lies ahead."

F&M will enter the season behind junior John Harrison, who has started every game of his college career. Harrison launched an all-out assault on both the F&M and Centennial Conference record books in 2010, becoming the first quarterback to have more than 250 completions, 30 TDs and 3,000 yards in a season. He finished the year with 287 completions for 3,096 yards and 32 TDs.

George Eager, Harrison's top target from a year ago, has graduated, but Harrison will be left with plenty of viable aerial options. Tight end, Michael Deutch, and receivers Jay Ridinger and Jarrell Diggs return, as do four-fifths of the Diplomats offensive line and running back, John Kaschak.

Inside linebacker, Sam Massaro, returns to anchor the Diplomats defense. In spite of missing the final two games with an injury, the sophomore led the team in tackles with 70 stops, including 43 solo tackles, eight tackles for losses, and four sacks. He also picked off three passes.

Mark Surma and C.T. Marsh combined for 10.5 sacks a year ago. Marsh's 6.5 sacks led the Diplomats. Cornerback Ty Savastio is the only returning player in the secondary. He broke up seven passes and picked off three more from his spot on the corner in 2009.

Ridinger and Surma will captain the 2010 team. The Diplomats will kick off the 2010 season on September 4 when Washington & Lee visits Lancaster. F&M will be seeking the 575th win in the program's history. The Diplomats sport a record of 574-457-45 since F&M started playing football 123 years ago.

The Sporting News Top 25

1. Wisc-Whitewater

2. Mount Union

3. Linfield

4. St. John's (Minn.)

5. Wesley

6. Mary Hardin-Baylor

7. Delaware Valley

8. Wittenberg

9. Central

10. St. Thomas

11. Ohio Northern

12. Thomas More

13. W&J

14. North Central

15. Johns Hopkins

16. Monmouth (Ill.)

17. Hardin-Simmons

18. Coe

19. Trinity (Texas)

20. Trine

21. Wisc-Stout

22. Hampden-Sydney

23. Wabash

24. Case Western Reserve

25. Franklin & Marshall