PRINCETON, W. Va. – For the first time since 2008, the Shepherd Rams have claimed the top spot in the WVIAC coaches’ preseason football poll, as announced by the league office.
The Rams, coming off the Division II national semifinals, return 14 starters (six offensive, eight defensive) and picked up 77 points in the poll. Shepherd garnered six first-place votes. The team has already received numerous preseason recognition as have standouts Tommy Addison and Keon Robinson.
West Liberty, which was the preseason favorite a year ago, was the top pick on the remaining three ballots and tallied 74 overall points. Under the direction of Roger Waialae, the Hilltoppers have put together a 46-21 mark and return 12 starters.
Fairmont State was chosen third among the league’s head coaches, totaling 50 points while Glenville State accounted for 45 points in the poll. The Falcons were 5-6 a season ago but return 17 starters.
The Pioneers are one of four squads that will have a new coach at the helm in 2011 in the WVIAC. GSC is led by David Hutchison as his team has 19 starters returning from a 5-6 campaign.
The Mountain Lions of Concord were chosen fifth after accounting for 43 points in the poll, edging past Charleston, which received 41 points. Both institutions will be led by first-year head coaches, respectively. Garin Justice is the coach at CU while UC’s first-year chief is Pat Kirkland. The Mountain Lions were 8-3 in 2010 while UC was 6-5.
West Virginia Wesleyan, which will be led by interim head coach Jonas Jackson, returns 15 starters off last year’s 9-2 team. The Bobcats are predicted to finish seventh with 36 points. Seton Hill picked up 23 points while West Virginia State rounded out the poll with 16 points.
The Griffins return 15 starters, including talented signal caller DJ Lenehan, who is poised to climb into the ranks of the career leaders in WVIAC history. The Yellow Jackets are looking to stop their 10-game losing streak as their last win was a 27-19 victory over FSU Nov. 17, 2009. WVSU’s Earl Monroe has 16 starters back – including eight on each side of the ball.
On Sept. 1, Fairmont State hosts Clarion and Glenville State will play Carson-Newman in 7 p.m. kick-offs. The remaining WVIAC foes will have their respective first games on Sept. 3. For a full league schedule, click here.
2011 WVIAC Coaches Poll
|2.||West Liberty (3)||74|