The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics football coaches’ spring Top-25 poll was released from the NAIA headquarters and three perennial powers from the CSFL have earned a place in the pre-season rankings.
The poll, according to Chad Waller, the director of sports information and media services, shows that Carroll College, of Helena, Mont., is again on top of the NAIA Nation. The Fighting Saints have won the national championship six times in the past nine years.
After finishing last season with a 10-7 triumph over the University of Sioux Falls (S.D.) in the title game (Dec. 18), Carroll had completed its fourth unbeaten season in 12 years under head coach Mike Van Diest. The Sioux Falls Cougars had won the previous two national crowns. They will compete in the NCAA beginning this fall.
The Central States Football League, of which Southwestern Assemblies of God University is a member, had three teams receiving votes in the spring coaches’ poll. They are familiar names in the NAIA rankings and are not strangers in the playoffs.
Northwestern Oklahoma State University is at No. 13. The Rangers posted an 8-3 record in 2010. Keith Barefield is the head coach at NWOSU where they had the No. 5 rushing defense (87.8 yards allowed) and No. 13 rushing offense (211.2 yards per game). The Rangers suffered a 33-14 setback at Sioux Falls in the opening round of the NAIA playoffs.
Southern Nazarene University is positioned at No. 18. The Crimson Storm, with the nation’s No. 7 scoring offense (41.3 points per game), went 7-4 under head coach Mike Cochran.
Langston University was one of nine colleges receiving votes at No. 32. The Lions were 6-4 last season, finishing behind SNU. Under Greg Johnson, LU lost to the Rangers, 20-13, and to SNU, 30-27, on a 37-yard field goal as time expired.
Langston continues to be an aggressive defense. It was No. 8 in pass defense (148.8 yards per game) and No. 10 in sacks (2.8 per game).
Southwestern shut out NW Oklahoma State’s high-powered offense in the first half, when the score was tied, 7-7, last season. The Rangers capitalized on five Lion turnovers to win, 44-7, despite gaining only 273 yards.
SAGU held Nate Guillory, the 2010 national leader in rushing to 21 yards. The Rangers scored a pair of TDs on returns by their defense.
SAGU received a breakout performance by TE Dylan Moore, with seven catches for 100 yards. The Lions had to play without ace RB Eddie Bailey Jr. Still, both teams played evenly, with each squad collecting just 13 first downs.
On the road against the Southern Nazarene Crimson Storm, SAGU held a 13-7 halftime lead before losing by a 35-21 count. Brady Wardlaw passed for 506 yards and four TD’s to rally the Storm, who outgained Southwestern in yards, 527 to 446. Wardlaw’s passing overcame five SNU turnovers.
The Lions, who made zero turnovers, were led by a pair of Bailey TDs (15 carries, 74 yards) and QB Jeremy Fowler’s 388 yards (42-of-71). He completed nine passes to Anthony Morris, including a touchdown. Bailey caught eight for 103.
Southwestern travelled to Langston, something it has done every time the two teams have met. SAGU built a 27-22 lead in the fourth quarter (8:31 to go) on four rushing touchdowns; three by Bailey, one by QB Jason Rice (13 attempts, 55 yards). Langston saved its homecoming with late scores to register a 41-27 victory.
Bailey ran 19 times for 143 yards and SAGU held a 16-14 edge in first downs. LU did own a 343-273 margin in total offense. Bailey scored on dashes on 21 and 26-yard runs for a 13-7 advantage after one quarter.
Southwestern’s returning players, recruits and newcomers report to training camp on Aug. 1. Head coach Jesse Godding and his veteran staff are gearing up for their season debut, Sept. 3, at Lindsborg, Kan., when they face Bethany College (4-6 in 2010).
SAGU’s home opener is against Howard Payne University the following week, Sept. 10. The Yellow Jackets (2-8) are members of the NCAA’s Division III. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at the expanding Lumpkins Stadium.
Homecoming 2011 is set for Oct. 22 against Oklahoma Panhandle State University (NCAA Division II). The Aggies were 6-5 last year. SAGU is 0-2 against OPSU: a 50-48 double overtime loss two years ago, and 35-31 in Goodwell, Okla. last year. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m.
Contact Mark Warde, Southwestern Assemblies’ S.I.D. at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 469-658-2847.