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2017 NAIA Football Coaches' Top 25 Poll - Spring (April 10)

April 10, 2017
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By Nikki Sherrill, Athletic Communications and Media Intern

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – After claiming its first red banner in 2016, the Cougars of Saint Francis (Ind.) claim the No. 1 ranking in the 2017 spring installment of the NAIA Football Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Monday. The Cougars swept all first-place votes and earned 314 total points to remain in the top spot. The 2017 preseason ranking will be announced in early August. 

Top 25 Highlights (historical information dates back to 1999)
• For just the fifth-time in program history and second-consecutive poll, Saint Francis holds a No. 1 ranking in the Coaches’ Poll. Capturing all first-place votes and 314 total points, the Cougars head into the new season as the top team.
• The Cougars earned their first No. 1 ranking of the 2016 season in the postseason poll. }
• In 2016, Saint Francis won its first-ever national title in football as it defeated No. 2 Baker (Kan.) in Daytona Beach, Fla., 38-17. This victory gave the Cougars their first red banner to take back to Indiana.
• Led by Kevin Donely, who is the NAIA leader in career wins at 302 and entering his 20th season at USF, the Cougars will open their 2017 campaign on the road against Jamestown, N.D. September 2. This will be the first-ever meeting between the two.
• Saint Francis will see key pieces of the winning squad back on the field in the fall. Eric Hemmelgarn, who ranked No. 1 in the NAIA in tackles for loss (25.5) and earned 63 tackles last season. Justin Green also returns for the Cougars behind his 1,367 total rushing yards last season. Besides the returning players, Saint Francis signed 30 commits in the off-season as it starts its journey to a second-consecutive title.
• The top 18 teams in this installment remained the same from the postseason edition last December. National runner-up Baker comes in at No. 2 for the ninth-straight poll. The remainder of the top five includes No. 3 Reinhardt (Ga.), No. 4 Eastern Oregon and No. 5 Marian (Ind.).
• No. 23 Georgetown (Ky.) highlighted the positive movement with a two-spot jump. The only other forward advancement went to No. 19 Montana Western who improved its ranking by one. No. 20 Concordia (Neb.), No. 24 Benedictine (Kan.) and No. 25 William Penn (Iowa) each fell one place in the spring installment.
• Overall, 11 different conferences are represented on the poll. The Frontier Conference, Great Plains Athletic Conference, Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference and Heart of America North led the way with three programs each.
• No new teams joined the Top 25.
• Overall, 42 teams were ranked in 2016.
• Carroll (Mont.) owns the most No. 1 rankings with 58, followed by former NAIA member Sioux Falls (S.D.) (55), Georgetown (25), Morningside (20) and Saint Xavier (14).
• Morningside holds the longest active streak with 125-straight Top 25 mentions.

Poll Methodology
• The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences.
• Each conference is given one rater for every four schools in the league.
• The Top 25 is determined by a points system based on how each voter ranks the best teams. A team receives 25 points for each first-place vote, 24 for second-place and so on through the list.
• The highest and lowest ranking for each team (a non-rating is considered a low rating) is removed and the team’s ranking will be recalculated with an additional point added to each team for every ballot (including discounted ballots) that the teams appear on.
• Teams that receive only one point in the ballot are not considered “receiving votes.”
• For the complete Top 25 calendar, click here.

2017 NAIA Football Coaches’ Top 25 Poll – Spring (April 10)
Rank Last Week School (1st Place Votes) 2016 Record Total Points
1 1 Saint Francis (Ind.) (14)  13-1 314
2 2 Baker (Kan.)  14-1 302
3 3 Reinhardt (Ga.)  13-1 281
4 4 Eastern Oregon  10-3 277
5 5 Marian (Ind.)  11-1 265
6 6 Morningside (Iowa)  10-2 258
7 7 Montana Tech  10-2 243
8 8 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)  11-2 231
9 9 Grand View (Iowa)  9-3 216
10 10 Doane (Neb.)  9-2 205
11 11 Missouri Valley  9-3 198
12 12 Tabor (Kan.)  8-3 179
13 13 Sterling (Kan.)  8-3 165
14 14 Dickinson State (N.D.)  9-4 157
15 15 Robert Morris (Ill.)  7-3 137
16 16 Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.)  8-3 122
17 17 Kansas Wesleyan  9-2 115
18 18 Southeastern (Fla.)  6-3 110
19 20 Montana Western  7-4 98
20 19 Concordia (Neb.)  7-3 97
21 21 Langston (Okla.)  7-2 66
22 22 Arizona Christian  7-3 51
23 25 Georgetown (Ky.)  7-4 44
24 23 Benedictine (Kan.)  7-4 39
25 24 William Penn (Iowa)  7-4 34


Dropped from Top 25: None

Others Receiving Votes: Warner (Fla.) 9; Saint Mary (Kan.) 7; Saint Xavier (Ill.) 5

^ Top 25 ranking from Dec. 20, 2016 Top 25 Poll

Championship Information

Sports Rules - Football