By Eric Montgomery, Heart of America Athletic Conference Sports Information Director
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Defending Heart of America Athletic Conference champion and NAIA Football Championship Series semifinalist Missouri Valley received eight of ten first place votes to sit atop the 2013 HAAC Preseason Coaches' Poll, released Tuesday afternoon at the annual Media Day festivities at the NAIA national office.
The Vikings took 80 of the possible 81 voting points to finish 10 points ahead of runner-up MidAmerica Nazarene, which received the remaining two first-place votes as well as four second-place tallies. The two teams will meet in Marshall on September 21st in a matchup between the two teams that have won at least a share of five of the past seven conference crowns.
Baker claimed third position in the poll for the second-straight season, earning 67 points that included matching the Pioneers with four second-place votes. The Wildcats returned to the NAIA Football Championship Series last season after a four-year hiatus and finished the 2012 regular season with four-straight victories by an average margin of 23 points.
The last two spots in the top five were decided by just five voting points as Evangel edged Benedictine, 56-51. The Crusaders won the head-to-head meeting between the two teams last season in Springfield, 54-44, and the two teams will close out the regular season at JFK Stadium on November 18.
Peru State began the second half of the poll by being voted into sixth position with 40 points while Graceland took 29 points for seventh position. Avila (25 points), Central Methodist (22) and Culver-Stockton (10) finished out the last three positions.
The 2013 season kicks off on Saturday, August 31 with three HAAC teams opening their respective seasons. Benedictine will host Briar Cliff (Iowa) and Peru State welcomes Dakota State (S.D.) while Culver-Stockton opens with a visit to Lindenwood-Belleville (Ill.). All 10 teams will hit the road for the inaugural HAAC-KCAC Football Series on Saturday, September 14 with each team taking on the KCAC team that finished in the same position in the 2012 standings at the KCAC site.
2013 HAAC Preseason Coaches' Poll
School (First Place Votes) Points
1. Missouri Valley (8) 80
2. MidAmerica Nazarene (2) 70
3. Baker 67
4. Evangel 56
5. Benedictine 51
6. Peru State 40
7. Graceland 29
8. Avila 25
9. Central Methodist 22
10. Culver-Stockton 10