Marian No. 1, SOU No. 2 in preseason poll
Defending national champion Marian was ranked No. 1 and runner-up Southern Oregon No. 2 in the NAIA football coaches’ top-25 preseason poll, released Monday.
The Knights, who denied the Raiders’ back-to-back title bid with a 31-14 victory in the 2015 national championship game, received all 14 first-place votes and 314 poll points overall to start the season atop the coaches’ poll for the second straight season.
The Raiders, who were tied with Marian atop the preseason coaches’ poll last season, received 302 poll points and were one of four teams from the Frontier Conference to make the top-25. Also cracking the list from the conference were seventh-ranked Montana Tech, No. 22 Carroll and No. 25 Montana Western, which dropped nine places from the spring poll.
Eastern Oregon, SOU’s first opponent of 2016 (Sept. 3 at La Grande), just missed the top-25 as the first team in the “others receiving votes” category.
Rounding out the top-10 were No. 3 Morningside, No. 4 Saint Francis (Indiana), No. 5 Baker (Kansas), No. 6 Grand View (Iowa), No. 8 Tabor (Kansas), No. 9 Doane (Nebraska) and No. 10 Saint Xavier (Ill.).
The first top-25 poll of the regular season will be released Sept. 12.
Marian of Indiana is expected to return nine starters on offense, including 2015 national championship Most Outstanding Offensive Player and AFCA-NAIA first-team All-American receiver Krishawn Hogan.
The Raiders were picked to win the Frontier Conference last week, receiving six of eight first-place votes.
This marks the fourth year in a row that SOU is ranked in the preseason top-25.
The Raiders are scheduled to hold their first full-squad practice Saturday.