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Top 25 Poll - Spring

April 18, 2011
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Carroll (Mont.) is the unanimous top-ranked team in the 2011 Football Coaches' Spring Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Monday. The Fighting Saints are the defending national champions after a 10-7 victory in the 2010 Russell Athletic-NAIA Football National Championship on Dec. 18. Behind 340 total points and 15 first-place votes, Carroll finished last season with a 14-0 record and was undefeated for the fourth time in 12 years under head coach Mike Van Diest.

The Fighting Saints now have 55 top rankings since 2000, which is tied for the most of any program in that span. The title was Carroll's sixth in the last nine years and the program now holds the second-most (tie) National Championships all-time.

The next four teams in the ranking all slide up one position, No. 2 Saint Xavier (Ill.), No. 3 MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.), No. 4 Saint Francis (Ind.) and No. 5 Morningside (Iowa).

Three newcomers enter into the Top 25, led by No. 23 (tie) Baker (Kan.) and No. 23 (tie) Benedictine (Kan.). The Wildcats were last mentioned in the 2010 Preseason Top 25 (Aug. 9) at the No. 24 spot. Benedictine earned five-straight rankings in 2010, with the last one coming on Oct. 11. No. 25 Saint Francis (Ill.) hops in after a No. 21 (tie) spot on Nov. 8, 2010. The Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC), Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) and Mid-States Football Association Mideast (MSFAME) each claim three schools apiece in the Top 25.

The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences and independents.

NOTES: In the five-year history of the Coaches' Spring Top 25 Poll, Carroll owns two of those No. 1 rankings (2008, 2011)... Numerous teams participating in the 2011 NAIA football season are not eligible for ratings due to their "transition" status... Since 2000, Carroll and Sioux Falls (S.D.) are tied with the most No. 1 positions at 55 during that span -- Georgetown (Ky.) is third with 14, Northwestern Oklahoma State with 11 and St. Francis (Ind.) with three... Sioux Falls holds the record (since 1997 when both divisions merged) for consecutive No. 1 rankings at 26 straight polls, accomplished from Jan. 12, 2009 (2008 Postseason) through Nov. 14, 2010 (Final Regular Season)... Only two teams have been ranked No. 1 since the 2006 Postseason Top 25 Poll (Jan. 18, 2007), with Carroll being one of them - Saint Francis was the last team outside of those two programs to earn the No. 1 spot back on Nov. 12, 2006 - a streak of 55 polls... Carroll has now been ranked in the top five in the last 78 straight polls dating back to Jan. 17, 2005 (2004 Postseason Top 25 Poll)... St. Francis boasts the longest consecutive stretch of being named in the Coaches' Top 25 Poll - 142 straight mentions - the last time St. Francis was not mentioned in the Top 25 was Oct. 19, 1999... After St. Francis, Carroll is the next team in line with 129 straight Top-25 rankings.

RANK LAST WEEK^ SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES) 2010 RECORD TOTAL POINTS
1 1 Carroll (Mont.) (15) 14-0 340
2 3 Saint Xavier (Ill.) 13-1 327
3 4 MidAmerica Nazarene  (Kan.) 12-1 314
4 5 Saint Francis (Ind.) 10-2 297
5 6 Morningside (Iowa) 10-2 292
6 7 Marian (Ind.) 10-3 270
7 10 Dickinson State (N.D.) 9-2 240
8 12 William Penn (Iowa) 10-1 234
9 11 McPherson (Kan.) 10-1 231
10 13 Ottawa (Kan.) 9-2 208
11 17 Missouri Valley
8-2 199
12 14 Georgetown (Ky.) 8-3 195
13 15 Northwestern Oklahoma State
8-3 191
14 18 Northwestern (Iowa) 8-2 165
15 15 Azusa Pacific (Calif.) 6-4 144
16 19 Cumberlands (Ky.) 7-4 118
17 21 Midland (Neb.) 8-3 115
18 24 Southern Nazarene (Okla.) 7-4 102
19 23 Cumberland (Tenn.) 8-3 99
20 22 Kansas Wesleyan
7-3 96
21 20 South Dakota Mines & Technology 7-3 82
22 25 Webber International (Fla.) 7-4 70
T23 NR Baker (Kan.) 7-4 33
T23 NR Benedictine (Kan.) 7-4 33
25 NR St. Francis (Ill.) 8-4 30

Others receiving votes: Walsh (Ohio) 26; Sterling (Kan.) 25; Union (Ky.) 19; Grand View (Iowa) 16; Campbellsville (Ky.) 8; Rocky Mountain (Mont.) 4; Faulkner (Ala.) 1; Friends (Kan.) 1; Langston (Okla.) 1.

^ Ranking indicated in 2010 Postseason Top 25 Poll (Jan. 10, 2011)

Top-10 Capsules
1. Carroll (Mont.): 2010 Record: 14-0... Conference finish: 1st... Starters returning/lost: 11/15... Won its sixth National Championship title with a 10-7 win over Sioux Falls (S.D.)... broke the Cougars 42-game winning streak in the title game... The sixth championship comes to within one crown of the all-time mark, which is held by Texas A&I (7)... The Fighting Saints won their 36th postseason game, which tied Sioux Falls for the most in NAIA history... Carroll's defense ranked in the top 10 nationally in multiple categories: including first in third-down conversion (53.6), total sacks (42.5), scoring defense per game (13.8), passing defense efficiency (94.4), rushing defense per game (91.6), total defense per game (261.7)... three-year starter Andy Fjeseth won the Rimington Award presented to the premier center at the NAIA level.

2. Saint Xavier (Ill.): 2010 Record: 13-1... Conference finish: 1st... Starters returning/lost: 15/11... Finished its season in the semifinals of the 2010 NAIA Football Championship Series falling to eventual national champion Carroll (Mont.), 27-5... It was the second-straight season the team has been knocked out of the postseason in the semifinals by the national champion... The Cougars averaged 47.7 points per game (No. 2 in the NAIA) and scored an NAIA-best 668 points... Saint Xavier was No. 2 nationally in passing offense per game (350.4 ypg) and led the NAIA with 4,906 passing yards... The Cougar defense was No. 3 nationally in total sacks (37) and No. 11 in scoring defense (17.2 ppg)... SXU has won the MSFA Mideast League each of the last two seasons and had back-to-back perfect regular seasons at 11-0.

3. MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.): 2010 Record: 12-1... Conference finish: 1st... Starters returning/lost: 17/6... Jonathan Quinn went 12-1 in his second year as the Pioneers head coach and is 22-3 overall... had its most success year in MNU history, coming off a semifinal appearance against Sioux Falls (S.D.)... The Pioneers led the nation in total takeaways (fumbles recovered, interceptions, blocked kicks) with 41... They were also second in the NAIA in interceptions (26), third in sacks (37), fourth in total defense (249.5), and fourth in pass defense efficiency (94.1)... MidAmerica Nazarene returns first-team all-HAAC selections: quarterback Sean Ransburg, running back Greg Gates, tight end Juan Redmon, offensive lineman Swede Johnson, defensive back JD Wood and linebacker Dantren Anderson.

4. Saint Francis (Ind.): 2010 Record: 10-2... Conference finish: 2nd... Starters returning/lost: 17/6... Appeared in its 17th Football Championship Series and 11th in the past 13 seasons... Upset fifth-ranked Lindenwood (Mo.), 46-38 in the first round...Saint Francis recorded its 12th-consecutive winning season... It was the ninth time the Cougars have had a 10-plus win season... In 14 years at USF, head coach Kevin Donley sports a 131-28 overall record...Senior Frank Wolfe III returns after averaging 6.0 yards per carry and leading Saint Francis with 930 rushing yards... The Cougars lose quarterback Shaine Tierney, who produced 223.9 passing yards per game, 14 passing TDs and 11 rushing TDs in 2010.

5. Morningside (Iowa): 2010 Record: 10-2... Conference finish: 2nd... Starters returning/lost: 19/7... The Mustangs have made seven-straight appearances in the NAIA Football Championship Series and have advanced to at least the quarterfinals in each of the last six years... Defeated Dickinson State (N.D.), 38-17, in the first round, but suffered a 34-10 defeat to MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) in the quarterfinals... Morningside ranked second in the nation in scoring defense (12.7 ppg), fourth in total defense (249.5 ypg) and fourth in rushing defense (76.8 ypg)... The Mustangs will have to replace five First-Team All-Great Plains Athletic Conference selections...Back to anchor the Morningside defense are free safety Jared Goforth, linebacker Marshall Barney, defensive lineman John Kirwan and defensive back Colby Henderson. Goforth and Henderson combined for 10 of the Mustangs 23 interceptions in 2010.

6. Marian (Ind.): 2010 Record: 10-3... Conference finish: 3rd... Starters returning/lost: 18/8... finished sixth in the NAIA in total pass offense (3,505), 10th in total pass offense per game (269.6) and 10th in pass defense efficiency (98.6 )... The Knights earned their first-ever trip to the NAIA Football Championship Series... Marian had its first-ever 10-win season in the program's fourth year of competition... won in the first round of the NAIA Football Championship series on the road at Ottawa (Kan.), 35-20... Fell to eventual-champion Carroll (Mont.) in the quarterfinals, 38-6.

7. Dickinson State (N.D.): 2010 Record: 9-2... Conference finish: 1st... Starters returning/lost: 14/12... lost to Morningside (Iowa) in the first round of the NAIA Football Championship Series first round, 38-17... won its third-straight Dakota Athletic Conference title... finished second in the NAIA in 4th down conversions at 78.6 percent... finished fifth in scoring defense per game (15.0)... head coach Hank Biesiot will enter his 35th year as head coach, holding a 251-96-1 (.723) record.

8. William Penn (Iowa): 2010 Record: 10-1... Conference finish: T-1st... Starters returning/lost: 14/12... Tied the school record for wins in a season with 10... Won its first conference championship (Mid-State Football Association Midwest) since 1976... Broke the all-time NAIA team rushing record with 4,476 yards during the 2010 season... The Statesmen also broke the average yards per carry record with 6.9 yards per rush... William Penn will look to fill the void of two-time AFCA All-American offensive lineman Steven Dawley... Head coach Todd Hafner returns a trio of sophomores including quarterback Taylor Parsons, who broke the school rushing touchdown mark with 20, fullback Shawn Davis, who rushed for a team-high 1,042 yards and 12 TDs and defensive back Jacob Batterson, who led the team with four interceptions.

9. McPherson (Kan.): 2010 Record: 10-1... Conference finish: 1st... Starters returning/lost: 11/15... Won the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference championship for the first time since 1952... finished the regular season undefeated (10-0) for first time in program history... won a school-record 10 games... ___ made their second-consecutive appearance in the NAIA Football Championship Series (lost to McKendree (Ill.) 38-14)... Senior wide receiver Andy Skinner returns after setting the career record for touchdown receptions (27) and receiving yards (2,461)... The Bulldogs will have to replace quarterback Shane Mascarenas who is the career record holder at McPherson in pass completions (463), passing touchdowns (71) and passing yards (7,143)... Mascarenas also set single-season records for passing touchdowns (35), completions (232), completion percentage (.620) and passing yards (3,621).

10. Ottawa (Kan.): 2010 Record: 9-2... Conference finish: 2nd... Starters returning/lost: 18/8... Qualified for back-to-back trips to the NAIA Football Championship Series for the first time in program history... The Braves return eight starters on offense and eight starters on defense... Ottawa returns its program's first back-to-back AFCA All-American selection Clarence Anderson... The senior wide receiver was recognized as First-Team All-American after ranking first in the NAIA in receptions per game (8.5), receiving yards per game (134.3), scoring per game (10.9), and total receiving yards (1,477).