Rock Hill, S.C. - Brevard College was picked eighth in the annual SAC Football Coaches Preseason Poll, as announced by the South Atlantic Conference office on Wednesday.
The Tornados return 15 starters from last year’s team which featured an offense that finished third in the NCAA in rushing, averaging 285.5 yards per game, and a defense which gave up the second-least yards per game in the conference.
Defending South Atlantic Conference champion Wingate has been tabbed by league coaches as the preseason favorite to win the 2011 SAC title.
Wingate, led by 2010 SAC Coach of the Year Joe Reich, received four of the eight first-place votes and had a total of 52 points. The Bulldogs, who advanced to the second round of last season’s NCAA Division II playoffs, will look to repeat as SAC champions for the first time in school history.
Just behind Wingate in the preseason poll is perennial league power Carson-Newman, which finished with 49 points. The Eagles will return 18 starters from last season’s team that finished second in the SAC.
Lenoir-Rhyne received two first-place votes and finished third in the poll with 42 points. The Bears, 7-4 (4-3) a year ago, return a strong core led by defending Jacobs Blocking Trophy recipient Chandler Reardon.
Also receiving two votes for the poll’s top spot was Tusculum, which was tabbed fourth by the coaches. The Pioneers (40 points) will once again feature a prolific passing attack, led by reigning SAC Offensive Player of the Year and All-American candidate Bo Cordell.
Catawba comes in fifth in the preseason poll with 38 points, followed by Newberry (33 points), Mars Hill (26 points) and Brevard (8 points).
The narrow margin separating teams in the preseason coaches’ poll is indicative of what promises to be a highly-competitive year in the SAC. The season officially gets underway on Thursday, Sept. 1, with conference play starting Sept. 17.
School Points (1st Place Votes)
1. Wingate 52 (4)
2. Carson-Newman 49
3. Lenoir-Rhyne 42 (2)
4. Tusculum 40 (2)
5. Catawba 38
6. Newberry 33
7. Mars Hill 26
8. Brevard 8