The 2017 Franklin & Marshall football team will be honored for years to come at the College. The season proved to be a watershed moment for the football squad as no other team in program history accomplished what the Diplomats did. F&M closed down a historic field with one of 10 wins on the season, while christening a new stadium with a Centennial Conference (CC) Title. The Diplomats won both rivalry games and capped off the year with a Bowl Championship, thanks in large part to contributions made by the team's 15 All-Conference selections – the most in the history of the program.
Click here to watch highlights of the 2017 season.
F&M kicked off the season with five straight victories. The Diplomats dominated their first two opponents with a 48-7 win over Lebanon Valley in the season opener before downing Juniata 52-7 the following week. F&M won by just three points or less in the next three contests, including a 17-14 win over Muhlenberg on Sept. 30 in the final football game at Sponaugle-Williamson Field.
The 122-year-old field had been home to F&M football for all but eight years of the program's existence. The Diplomats ended with a 370-197-23 record on Sponaugle-Williamson, including 27 seasons in which F&M finished unbeaten at home.
The Diplomats faced Dickinson on Oct. 21st in the inaugural game at the newly-minted Shadek Stadium. The game was never in doubt as F&M defeated the Red Devils 56-0 to retain the coveted Conestoga Wagon Trophy. Two away victories had the Diplomats entering the final game of the regular season with an 8-1 record and a showdown with Gettysburg.
With a share of the CC Championship on the line, as well as the Lincoln Trophy, the Diplomats took care of business with a 51-21 thrashing of the Bullets. The win gave F&M a share of the CC Title for the first time since 2004 and marked the 14th conference championship in program history.
The victory also secured the top-seed in the MAC-Centennial Bowl and a showdown with perennial MAC contenders Widener. On a rain-soaked afternoon, led by co-MVPs Taalib Gerald and Dillon Alderfer, the Diplomats came away with a hard-fought 21-7 win over the Pride to win their first postseason game since 2013, and finished the season with a 10-1 record. With the win, the 2017 football squad joined the 1989 team as the only two teams in program history to finish with 10 wins.
Gerald set multiple records in 2017 as he became the fourth player in program history to reach 2,000 yards and finished the season ranked second with 2,489 career rushing yards. The senior reset the F&M rushing touchdown with 30 touchdowns and tied the school record in both total touchdowns (35) and points (210).
Fifteen members earned spots on the All-Centennial Football Team, while John Troxell was named Coach of the Year and Joe Granahan '19 garnered Defensive Player of the Year. The 15 selections were the most in school history and in the conference in 2017 and marked the second consecutive year that 10 or members had earned All-CC recognition.
Troxell picked up his second Coach of the Year award, also earning the honor in 2009, while Granahan became the second F&M player to win Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Four first-team selections came on offense with Tanner Erisman '19, Taalib Gerald '18, K.J. Pretty '19, and Brian Denoncour '20 earning spots. Four more came from the defensive unit as Granahan, Michael Sullivan '18, Vincent Speranza '19, and Vincent Moffett '18 all made their way to the first team. A.J. Gasser '18 represented the offense on the second team, with Brendan Kilkenny '19, Bobby McDevitt '19, Ben Okun '18, and Jeff Leone '18 all earning second-team honors on defense. Dillon Alderfer '18 and Kevin Lammers '20 received honorable mention - Alderfer as a wideout and Lammers as a return specialist.
Tyler Schubert '19 was named to the 2017 Allstate American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Good Works Team®. As one of college football's most prestigious off-the-field honors, the award recognizes a select group of college football players committed to making a difference in their communities. The honor was the second in program history as Chad Tothero '12 was named to the team in 2012. Schubert was one of just five Division III players from across the country to earn the distinction.