SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The Evangel University football team is picked to finish fifth in the Heart of America conference in the preseason coaches’ poll released by the league today.
MidAmerica Nazarene, defending league champion, was picked to win the conference. The Pioneers received seven of the league’s ten first place votes. MidAmerica Nazarene will also start the season ranked fifth nationally in the NAIA. Missouri Valley was picked second and received three first place votes.
The Crusaders were picked fifth after going 3-6 in the HAAC and 3-7 overall last season. Brenton Illum will enter his third year as Evangel’s head football coach in 2012.
Four HAAC teams are ranked in the NAIA Top 25 Preseason Poll. Along with MidAmerica Nazarene’s #5 ranking, Missouri Valley is ranked 9th, Benedictine is ranked 13th and Baker is ranked 18th nationally.
Evangel players are scheduled to report to campus Wednesday and have two days of meetings and team activities scheduled before their first practice on Saturday. Evangel opens the 2012 season at home on Saturday, Sept. 1 against Friends (Kan.) at JFK Stadium in Springfield.
The complete HAAC preseason football poll:
1. MidAmerica Nazarene (7)
2. Missouri Valley (3)
6. Central Methodist
8. Peru State