By Mike DeVader, Communications & Sports Information Intern
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – For the first time in program history, defending national champion Southern Oregon is the top team in the 2015 NAIA Football Coaches’ Spring Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Monday. The Raiders, who took down Marian (Ind.), 55-31, to win their first-ever crown, received 10 of the possible 11 first-place votes and 236 total points.
Today’s No. 1 ranking is Southern Oregon’s second all-time – and second-consecutive – dating back to the Postseason Poll on Dec. 22, 2014.
The Raiders capped last year’s dream season with a 13-2 overall record. Southern Oregon will have to replace the Rawlings-NAIA National Player of the Year and National Championship Most Outstanding Offensive Player of the Game Austin Dodge. The senior quarterback threw for 429 yards and three touchdowns in the title game.
No. 2 Marian, last season’s national runner-up, took home 227 points and the final first-place vote. The Knights won nine-straight, including five against ranked opponents, to punch their ticket to Municipal Stadium in Daytona Beach, Fla. It was the second time in the last three seasons Marian made the title game. With the loss, the Knights closed the book on 2014 with an 11-3 record.
Marian began last season unranked.
The rest of the top five mirrored the Postseason Poll, as Morningside (Iowa) is third with 214 points. The Mustangs begin their quest of being ranked among the top five in every poll for the third year in-a-row. They were No. 1 a season ago from Sept. 22, 2014 – Nov. 10, 2014. Morningside reached the 2014 NAIA Football Championship Series (FCS) semifinals for the third-consecutive year, while finishing 12-2.
No. 4 Saint Xavier (Ill.) (209 points) and No. 5 Carroll (Mont.) (206 points) round out the top five. Both the Cougars and Saints were eliminated from the FCS by eventual national champion, Southern Oregon. Saint Xavier ended the year with a 10-3 mark, while Carroll finished at 10-2. Both of the Saints’ losses came at the hands of the Raiders.
The first 12 teams in the poll stood still from the Postseason release, with No. 13 Eastern Oregon making the first movement, jumping up from No. 15. With minimal noise occurring throughout the ranking, no new team entered the rating.
The Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC) leads all leagues with four teams ranked – No. 8 Missouri Valley, No. 9 MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.), No. 16 Baker (Kan.) and No. 25 Benedictine (Kan.). Two more schools, No. 6 Grand View (Iowa) and No. 18 William Penn (Iowa) will begin HAAC competition this coming season.
The Frontier Conference, Great Plains Athletic Conference, Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference and the Mid-States Football Association Midwest League are tied for second with three programs each.
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences and independents.
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Notes (all information dates back to 1999): Southern Oregon is making its first-ever No. 1 appearance in the Spring Top 25, and second-consecutive top spot … Before the 2014 Postseason Poll, the Raiders’ highest previous ranking was No. 4 (Oct. 13, 2014 and Nov. 10, 2014) … Four teams held the No. 1 ranking last season: Carroll (Mont.), Grand View (Iowa), Morningside (Iowa) and Southern Oregon … Carroll owns the most top-billings with 58, followed by former member Sioux Falls (S.D.) (55), Georgetown (Ky.) (25), Morningside (17) and Saint Xavier (Ill.) (14) … With the186-straight Top 25 rankings streak of Saint Francis (Ind.) snapped on Oct. 13, Carroll now owns the active lead with 181, Missouri Valley with 116, Morningside with 99 and Saint Xavier with 89 … Morningside holds the longest active streak of top 10 rankings, having been ranked among the top 10 teams for 48-straight polls dating back to Sept. 19, 2011 … Overall, 38 teams were ranked in 2014 … Carroll, Grand View and Morningside were ranked among the top-10 in every edition last season … The Association of Independent Institutions was the only league not to have a team ranked at some point in the Top 25 a year ago.
2015 NAIA Football Coaches’ Spring Top 25 Poll (April 13)
|RANK||LAST TIME^||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||2014 RECORD||TOTAL POINTS|
|1||1||Southern Oregon (10)||13-2||236|
|2||2||Marian (Ind.) (1)||11-3||227|
|4||4||Saint Xavier (Ill.)||10-3||209|
|6||6||Grand View (Iowa)||11-2||191|
|7||7||Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)||10-3||181|
|9||9||MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.)||9-2||162|
|17||16||Valley City State (N.D.)||9-2||84|
|18||19||William Penn (Iowa)||7-4||78|
|20||20||Robert Morris (Ill.)||8-3||72|
|23||23||Webber International (Fla.)||8-3||31|
Others Receiving Votes: Montana Western 7; Southeastern (Fla.) 3.^ 2014 NAIA Football Coaches’ Postseason Top 25 Poll (Dec. 22, 2014)