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Carroll No. 1, SOU No. 2 in Frontier Conference coaches' poll

The Southern Oregon University football team expects to be a more alluring target than usual this fall, but the Raiders still won't be the team to beat in the Frontier according to a poll of the conference's coaches.

That distinction again belongs to Carroll College, which received five of eight first-place votes in a preseason poll released Tuesday by the league office. The Saints have won 14 of the last 15 Frontier titles.

SOU was picked to finish second, garnering the other three first-place votes, three second-place votes and one third-place vote. The Raiders, who were second with a Frontier record of 8-2 in 2014, split two conference games with Carroll last season but defeated the top-ranked Saints in an NAIA quarterfinal matchup in Helena, Mont., on the way to their first-ever national championship. All three meetings were decided by three points or less.

The Raiders and Saints will open the 2015 season against each other on Sept. 5 in Helena. The rematch is set for Oct. 17 in Ashland.

Following Carroll and SOU in the poll was Eastern Oregon in third, Rocky Mountain in fourth, Montana Western in fifth, College of Idaho and Montana Tech tied for sixth, and Montana State-Northern in eighth.

Eastern Oregon, which was No. 13 in the NAIA Spring Top 25 poll, will visit for SOU's home opener on Sept. 12. The Mountaineers have left their last two trips to Raider Stadium with victories, making them the only visitors to win in Ashland since SOU head coach Craig Howard took over in 2011. SOU will also have a second date with them on Nov. 14 in La Grande for the regular-season finale.

SOU was No. 1 and Carroll No. 5 in the NAIA Spring poll, but that order figures to be flipped in accordance with the conference preseason poll when the NAIA Preseason Top 25 is released on Aug. 10.

The Raiders were picked third in last year's Frontier preseason poll, third in 2013, and fifth when they became conference co-champions in 2012 — their first season in the Frontier. This year's team will be tasked with replacing a class of 13 seniors, including four All-Americans, but is slated to return 43 letterwinners with six starters back on offense and seven on defense.

SOU's first official day of practice is Aug. 15.