“Dexter is a big part of what we do and the offense flows through him. He’ll have to<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->play well.” <br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 --><br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->“... Franklin is the best team we have faced since the first two weeks of the season and we’ll have to be ready.”<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 --><br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Hanover head coach Steve Baudendistel (above) on quarterback Dexter Britt (below) and playing Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference rival Franklin College on<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Saturday
“Dexter is a big part of what we do and the offense flows through him. He’ll have to

play well.”



“... Franklin is the best team we have faced since the first two weeks of the season and we’ll have to be ready.”



Hanover head coach Steve Baudendistel (above) on quarterback Dexter Britt (below) and playing Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference rival Franklin College on

Saturday
More than just bragging rights are on the line when Hanover College and Franklin square off in the 56th battle for the Victory Bell Saturday in Franklin.

While the two archrivals will be playing for the right to take home one of the oldest trophies in the state, the winner will also win the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference and clinch the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Division III playoffs.

"We didn't approach (the game) any differently. Our weekly schedule is exactly the same away, we practiced the same way and we're watching film the same way," Hanover coach Steve Baudendistel said. "We're not doing anything differently at all. We have a few things that we need to clean up from last Saturday, some mistakes we made, but we're not doing anything differently."

The two schools first met on the gridiron in 1898, a game Hanover won 18-11. The Panthers hold a 42-36-3 record in the series, which was interrupted by a 17-year stretch from 1971 through 1988 after the two schools split into different conferences.

The Victory Bell was first contested in 1938 and was the brainchild of Hanover's Bat Club, a non-athletic group of males that wanted to improve school spirit.

Then-Hanover president Albert Parker designated the 1938 game against the Grizzlies and sent a letter of interest to the Franklin president. The trophy idea was approved by the Franklin athletic board, student council and student body.

Hanover owns a 35-20 lead in Bell games but hasn't won the trophy since 2004. The 2005 loss ended a string of 11-straight wins by the Panthers in the series, and 15 out of 16 dating back to 1989.

Franklin has won the last seven meetings, including a 40-15 triumph a year ago.

But this year's game means more than just lifting the trophy. Hanover has not won the conference championship since 2003 while Franklin has won the last two and four of the last five.

Hanover comes into the game with a 6-3 record overall and 6-1 in the HCAC. Franklin is 7-2 overall and 7-0 in league play and is ranked 15th in the nation. A win would give the Panthers the tie-breaker for the league's automatic NCAA berth.

It's the same situation Hanover was in two years ago. That year, an upstart Panther squad went to Franklin with a chance to steal the HCAC title. After a slow start, the Grizzlies rolled to a 48-25 win.

Baudendistel was an assistant for Hanover in that game and notes that the difference this time around is that several of his players now have experience in a game of that magnitude.

"Most of our seniors and juniors played in that game and they know what to expect," Baudendistel said. "They know what the pressure is like, what the environment will be like and they can pass that onto the younger players. Two years ago, they had never played in a game like that."

Of course beating Franklin will take more than just experience. The Grizzlies have turned into one of the top programs in the nation under the guidance of former Hanover quarterback and offensive coordinator Mike Leonard. In fact, the Franklin of today resembles the Hanover teams that dominated the series in the 1990s.

"(Franklin) is a sound football team all around, offensively, defensively and special teams," Baudendistel said. "They've got players all over and they don't make a lot of mistakes."

In order for Hanover to pull the upset Baudendistel pointed to the old standbys of college football. The Panthers must play good defense and they must take care of the football.

The coach also pointed to quarterback Dexter Britt as one of the keys to the game. The junior out of Louisville's Male High School has been the HCAC's offensive player of the week three times this season but is also capable of throwing interceptions.

"Dexter is a big part of what we do and the offense flows through him. He'll have to play well," Baudendistel said. "But I think the running game will also be a big part of what we do. We've had some success there and we need to keep it up."

Hanover had its six-game win streak snapped with a 35-34 loss at Manchester last week and Baudendistel admits that his team may have been overlooking the Spartans to this Saturday's game at Franklin. He promises that it won't happen again.

"I think we as coaches did everything we could to try to convince our guys that Manchester was a good team but they probably were overlooking them, especially when you consider that the game didn't really matter and Franklin was the next week," Baudendistel said. "But Franklin is the best team we have faced since the first two weeks of the season and we'll have to be ready."

Hanover and Franklin kick-off at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. The game is being webcast and can be accessed online through the school's website at www.hanover.edu.