July 31, 2009

By Amy Farnum

After claiming its first outright Lone Star Conference title since 1973, Abilene Christian has been voted as the favorite to win the league’s South Division in the preseason poll announced on July 30.

The Wildcats went 10-0 during the 2008 regular season – just the second squad, and first since 1950, to accomplish the feat.  ACU advanced to the NCAA Division II playoffs, but fell in the quarterfinals following a whopping 93-68 victory over West Texas A&M in the second round. 

ASC’s Aston Whiteside was voted Preseason LSC South Division Defensive Player of the Year after leading the Wildcats with nine sacks and 16.0 tackles for loss last year.  The defensive lineman from Vernon, Texas, was the 2008 LSC South Freshman of the Year and Co-Defensive Lineman of the Year.

Central Oklahoma, which ended last season on a seven-game winning streak, was picked to repeat as champions of the LSC North Division.

BULLDOGS ARE BACK: Defending NCAA Division II champion, the University of Minnesota Duluth, is ranked No. 3 in The Sporting News preseason poll after cruising through the 2008 season with a 15-0 mark. 
The Bulldogs, who enter 2009 on a 16-game winning streak, sit behind top-ranked Grand Valley State and No. 2 Northwest Missouri State in the preseason rankings.

A trio of UMD players was selected to the publication’s Division II Preseason All-American Team -- junior running back Isaac Odim, senior cornerback Cole Strilzuk and senior offensive tackle Sam Whitney.  Odim set school single-season records for rushing touchdowns (26) and yards per carry (7.3) last year as he led the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference in rushing, while Strilzuk topped the team with six interceptions in 2008.

UMD opens the season against Concordia-St. Paul on Aug. 29 before hosting No. 10 Central Washington in a nationally-televised game on Sept. 3.

FAN FRIENDLY: For the first time ever, the annual West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Football Media Day will be available to television viewers and via the Internet. 

The event will feature all of the league's nine head football coaches will be aired at noon by WLTV-14 in the Northern Panhandle.  The media conference will also be streamed to WVIAC gridiron fans on the worldwide web.

WLTV-14 reaches over 40,000 homes in Ohio and Marshall Counties via Comcast Cable. Reid Amos will serve as the M.C. for the event as WVIAC head coaches provide the first glimpses of their teams in 2009 .  This year’s media day will also provide an interactive opportunity for WVIAC fans who can submit questions to ask the WVIAC head coaches. 

Glenville State won the WVIAC title in 2008.

NOTABLE:  Albany State was voted as the preseason favorite in the SIAC, but second-place Tuskegee landed double-digit members of the preseason all-conference team with 12 … Fayetteville State was selected as the top team in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association preseason poll.  The Broncos are celebrating “A Decade of Excellence” as head coach Kenny Phillips enters his 10th season with the program.  Fayetteville State opens the season by hosting UNC-Pembroke in the “Two Rivers Classic” on Aug. 29.