Little Giants tabbed first by NCAC coaches
Wednesday, August 06, 2014 10:00 PM
The Wabash College football team received half of the votes in the annual North Coast Athletic Conference coaches' poll to finish first among the 10 teams in the annual preseason rankings.
The Little Giants received five of the first-place votes by the coaches and garnered a total of 95 points, finishing second on the remaining ballots. Wittenberg took second in the voting, receiving four first-place votes and 92 points. Oberlin picked up the final first-place votes, finishing eighth in the poll with a total of 35 points. Denison and Wooster tied for third (67 points), followed by DePauw in fifth (57) and Ohio Wesleyan in sixth place (55). Kenyon tallied 36 points to edge Oberlin for seventh place. Allegheny and Hiram each totaled 23 points to tie for ninth in the preseason poll.
Wabash finished 9-1 last season boasting the top defense in Division III, holding opponents to 220.7 yards per game and finishing +24 in turnover margin. Senior All-American rush linebacker Cody Buresh returns for his senior season and will be joined by eight other starters from the 2013 squad including All-NCAC performers AJ Akinribade (SR; LB), Tyler McCullen (JR; DL), and Denzel Wilkins (SR; DB).
Junior quarterback Michael Putko will be back after throwing for 1,702 yards and 14 TDs in his first season as a starter. Running backs Tyler Holmes and Mason Zurek have recovered from knee injuries that sidelined both players for most of the 2013 season. Holmes ran for 244 yards and two touchdowns in only six quarters, while Zurek rushed for 506 yards and five scores in five games. Five offensive starters return for a Little Giants team that scored 46.6 points a game, the fourth-highest average in Division III.
"The poll is really something that gets the fans excited and talking about the upcoming season," Wabash head coach Erik Raeburn said. "We found out in 2012 you can't worry about a team's ranking in the preseason poll. We had two disappointing home losses to NCAC teams after being picked to win the league that season in the preseason poll."
The Little Giants, ranked 16th in the D3football.com Top-25 national poll, will open the season Sept. 6 at home against Hampden-Sydney College in The Gentlemen's Classic.