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.
• 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.
|Rank||Last Week||School (1st Place Votes)||2016 Record||Total Points|
|1||1||Saint Francis (Ind.) (14)||13-1||314|
|8||8||Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)||11-2||231|
|9||9||Grand View (Iowa)||9-3||216|
|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|
|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