Aug. 6, 2009

By Amy Farnum

Northwest Missouri State is favored to continue its dominance of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association as the preseason No. 1 pick in both the league’s coaches’ and media polls.

The three-time defending MIAA champions have won 28 straight regular season league games, as well as three NCAA playoff contests against conference foes.  Nationally, the Bearcats have reached the NCAA Division II championship game in each of the last four years.

“Everybody is aware we have won a lot of conference games but we certainly don’t talk about it because we know how delicate that is and how easy it is to lose one,” said head coach Mel Tjeerdsma.

The Bearcats face tough competition in the MIAA as the conference sent two other squads – Pittsburg State and Nebraska-Omaha – to the NCAA Division II playoffs last year.

Northwest travels to Abilene Christian Aug. 27 to start the 2009 season.

RUNNING ON EMPTY: Glenville State will have to replace the nation’s leading rusher in Jerry Seymour, who ran for a league-record 2,282 yards last year, but the defending champion Pioneers have still been voted as the favorite to win the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in 2009.

The Pioneers return quarterback James McCants and wide receiver Antwan Stewart, but Adam Adkins is the lone returning starting offensive lineman from a unit that helped the team set a league record with 282.2 rushing yards per game in 2008.

GSC hosts Stonehill Aug. 27 to kickoff the 2009 football season.

PENNSYLVANIA POWERS:  The two defending divisional champions in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference are picked to win their respective titles once again as Bloomsburg looks to reign over the East, and California vies for the West title.

Bloomsburg downed the Vulcans in regular season play, but feel to California in regional championship game.  After evening the score with the Huskies, the Vulcans were stopped by eventual NCAA champion Minnesota-Duluth.

"I'm excited for the team and for our fans," said Bloomsburg head coach Danny Hale. "It's a testament to what we've done in the past as well as the players we have coming back. But it is certainly a long road ahead, and I remind my players that it's not where you start, but where you finish."

The Huskies have won or shared 10 PSAC East titles, while California has earned at least a claim of the last four PSAC West crowns.

NOTABLE:  Senior quarterback Alex Good was one of 11 Carson-Newman players named to the Preseason All-South Atlantic Conference on the merits of his balanced attack last year (1,349 passing yards and 13 TD along with 918 rushing yards and 12 TD).  The Eagles, who have won 20 league titles during head coach Ken Sparks’ tenure, are ready to defend their 2008 league championship as the coaches’ preseason pick … Grand Valley State, which is starting the season with a No. 1 ranking in a preseason publication for the eighth straight year, has also been voted to win the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title in 2009.   The Lakers have won four straight GLIAC championships and travel to West Texas A&M for a non-conference matchup Aug. 29 to start the 2009 season.