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SOU Second Behind Carroll In Frontier Preseason Poll

Contributed by admin on Aug 20, 2015 - 11:02 PM
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WHITEFISH, Mont. – The Southern Oregon University football team expects to be a more alluring target than usual this fall, but the Raiders still won't be the team to beat in the Frontier according to a poll of the conference's coaches.
 




2015 FRONTIER CONFERENCE PRESEASON POLL
SchoolPoints2014 record
1. Carroll College 47 (5) 10-2, 9-1
2. Southern Oregon 44 (3) 13-2, 8-2
3. Eastern Oregon 36 8-3, 7-3
4. Rocky Mountain 28 5-6, 4-6
5. Montana Western 27 6-5, 6-4
t-6. College of Idaho 16 4-7, 3-7
t-6. Montana Tech 16 1-9, 1-9
8. Montana State-Northern 10 3-8, 2-8

That distinction again belongs to Carroll College, which received five of eight first-place votes in a preseason poll released Tuesday by the league office. The Saints have won 14 of the last 15 Frontier titles.

SOU was picked to finish second, garnering the other three first-place votes, three second-place votes and one third-place vote. The Raiders, who were second with a Frontier record of 8-2 in 2014, split two conference games with Carroll last season but defeated the top-ranked Saints in an NAIA quarterfinal matchup in Helena, Mont., on the way to their first-ever national championship. All three meetings were decided by three points or less.

The Raiders and Saints will open the 2015 season against each other on Sept. 5 in Helena. The rematch is set for Oct. 17 in Ashland.

Following Carroll and SOU in the poll was Eastern Oregon in third, Rocky Mountain in fourth, Montana Western in fifth, College of Idaho and Montana Tech tied for sixth, and Montana State-Northern in eighth.

Eastern Oregon, which was No. 13 in the NAIA Spring Top 25 poll, will visit for SOU's home opener on Sept. 12. The Mountaineers have left their last two trips to Raider Stadium with victories, making them the only visitors to win in Ashland since SOU head coach Craig Howard took over in 2011. SOU will also have a second date with them on Nov. 14 in La Grande for the regular-season finale.

SOU was No. 1 and Carroll No. 5 in the NAIA Spring poll, but that order figures to be flipped in accordance with the conference preseason poll when the NAIA Preseason Top 25 is released on Aug. 10.

The Raiders were picked third in last year's Frontier preseason poll, third in 2013, and fifth when they became conference co-champions in 2012 – their first season in the Frontier. This year's team will be tasked with replacing a class of 13 seniors, including four All-Americans, but is slated to return 43 letterwinners with six starters back on offense and seven on defense.

SOU's first official day of practice is Aug. 15.


Raiders No. 1 In NAIA Top 25 Preseason Poll

Contributed by admin on Aug 20, 2015 - 11:05 PM
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Southern Oregon University football team was appointed preseason No. 1 for the first time Monday when the NAIA Top 25 preseason poll was released by the national office.
 

SOU Preseason Rankings (Since 1997)



      Year      Rank       Finish
2000 12th 5-4
2001 t-14th 9-2
2002 4th 8-3
2003 5th 5-4
2013 14th 7-4
2014 22nd 13-2
2015 t-1st ??

The Raiders and Marian (Ind.), their opponent in the 2014 title game, both amassed 304 points in the poll, forcing the first preseason tie for the top spot since the NAIA merged its two football divisions in 1997.

Lurking close behind the Raiders are their first two opponents: No. 4 Carroll and No. 13 Eastern Oregon. Another Frontier Conference squad, Montana Western, received votes. And despite all that, the Frontier might still be wondering what it has to do to get some respect.

That's because the NAIA rankings directly contradict the Frontier preseason poll, which had Carroll as the favorite to win its 15th conference title in 16 years when it was released two weeks ago. SOU, which garnered three of eight first-place votes in the Frontier poll, took eight of 14 first-place votes in the NAIA poll. Marian received five and Carroll got the other.

Not that SOU's Sept. 5 season-opener at Carroll was previously lacking storylines. Last year's three meetings were decided by a total of eight points, and Carroll won the conference title, but SOU erased a 17-point deficit entering the fourth quarter to knock off the top-ranked Saints in a blizzard and move on to the national semifinals.

Eastern Oregon will be at Raider Stadium on Sept. 12 for SOU's first home game.

Morningside (Iowa) is No. 3 and Saint Xavier (Ill.) – which SOU defeated in last year's semifinals – is tied at No. 4.

The Raiders had previously never been ranked higher than No. 4 in the preseason. They entered 2002 in that spot and went into 2003 ranked No. 5, but didn't appear in the preseason poll again for 10 years, finally getting back to 13thgoing into 2013 after a quarterfinal appearance in 2012.

Last year's SOU team started 22nd and hopped to No. 9 when the next poll came out three games into the season.

The Raiders earned their first-ever No. 1 ranking in the final poll of 2014, following their march through the NAIA playoffs, and kept the top spot in the 2015 spring poll.
 



RANK LAST  SCHOOL (1st place votes) 2014  POINTS
T1 1 Southern Oregon (8) 13-2 304
T1 2 Marian (Ind.) (5) 11-3 304
3 3 Morningside (Iowa) 12-2 289
T4 4 Saint Xavier (Ill.) 10-3 277
T4 5 Carroll (Mont.) (1) 10-2 277
6 6 Grand View (Iowa) 11-2 254
7 7 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) 10-3 240
8 9 MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) 9-2 227
9 8 Missouri Valley 9-4 222
10 10 Faulkner (Ala.) 9-3 200
11 11 Georgetown (Ky.) 8-3 198
12 12 Northwestern (Iowa) 9-2 181
13 13 Eastern Oregon 8-3 172
14 14 Ottawa (Kan.) 9-3 148
15 16 Baker (Kan.) 8-3 138
16 15 Campbellsville (Ky.) 7-4 136
17 17 Valley City State (N.D.) 9-2 105
18 19 Langston (Okla.) 7-5 98
19 18 William Penn (Iowa) 7-4 95
20 20 Robert Morris (Ill.) 8-3 90
21 21 Friends (Kan.) 8-3 64
T22 22 Doane (Neb.) 7-3 51
T22 24 Tabor (Kan.) 7-4 51
24 23 Webber International (Fla.) 8-3 42
25 25 Benedictine (Kan.) 7-4 36

Others Receiving Votes: Sterling (Kan.) 9; Saint Francis (Ind.) 9; Montana Western 9; Reinhardt (Ga.) 3.


Top-ranked Raiders Slide Helmets Back On For First Day Of Practice

Contributed by admin on Aug 20, 2015 - 11:08 PM
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ASHLAND – With three weeks separating Saturday's season-opening practice and top-ranked Southern Oregon University's first game at fourth-ranked Carroll, the Raiders won't have to wait long for some excitement.

They will, however, have a lot of sorting out to do before then. SOU opened fall camp with 140 players, adding on to the 96 who were enrolled for spring camp and the 60-70 who participated in summer workouts. The Raiders started last season with 125, which was at that time the biggest number in the Craig Howard era.

Howard, now in his fifth season as head coach, anticipated a bigger spotlight regardless of the numbers. Following up the program's first NAIA title, the Raiders are in for a pressure-packed opening with their first games at Carroll – the favorite to win the Frontier Conference – on Sept. 5, and at Raider Stadium against 13th-ranked Eastern Oregon on Sept. 12.

"When we look at our guys, how we've gone to work this offseason and the focus they have, you know they want to get back to the spot they were in," Howard said. "They want to get back to playing for a championship and we're excited for the challenge. The Frontier Conference will be as competitive as ever, but as a competitor, that's the league you want to be in."

Competition within the team will begin in earnest on Monday, when SOU will be in full pads for the first time.

Third-year defensive coordinator Berk Brown, whose unit will be replacing four all-conference graduates, was pleased with first-day returns even without the pads.

"I think we came into camp, as a group, in the best shape we've been since coach Howard got here and it showed," Brown said. "When guys aren't gassed out they can think and they can react to how our defense needs to be played, and that goes a long way this time of year."

There is more work to be done offensively, too, than there was at this time a year ago, when the Raiders returned 10 of 11 starters and just minimal shuffling at stake on the depth chart. Co-offensive coordinator Ken Fasnacht knows that most of the attention will be on the quarterback battle between returning players Jack Singler (Medford, Ore./South Medford) and Kamerun Smith (Eugene, Ore./Marist) and junior transfer Tanner Trosin. He said the coaching staff hopes to settle that matter within the next seven to nine days.

"The sooner we can make that decision, the better," Fasnacht said.

"The thing that probably we're most happy about as an offensive staff is we had really good tempo today," he added. "We got out and we were moving, knew where we were supposed to go, and we look like an offense early. I would say from an offensive, and probably a defensive perspective, that might be our best first day in five years."