August 3, 2015
Football Picked 4th in SAC Preseason Coaches Poll
ROCK HILL, S.C. (TheSAC.com) -- Catawba has been voted fourth by the South Atlantic Conference football head coaches in the 2015 SAC Football Preseason Poll. Lenoir-Rhyne, who received six first-place votes, were tabbed as the favorite to win the title. The poll was announced by the league office on Monday.
Lenoir-Rhyne turned in an 11-1 overall record and a 7-0 mark in SAC play to win their fourth-straight SAC title during the 2014 season. The Bears finished the season ranked No. 1 in the Super Region II and No. 8 in the nation. Lenoir-Rhyne boasted the nation’s top-rated rushing offense a season ago as it totaled 416.3 yards per game, while its defense was No. 7 in Division II as it allowed only 15.6 points per game.
Carson-Newman came in at No. 2 after closing out the 2014 campaign at 7-3 overall and 5-2 in SAC play. The orange and blue veer attack amassed 357.5 yards per game on the ground to rank No. 3 in the country and finished at No. 26 in the nation with 37.7 points per game. A mainstay in the Top 25 for most the season in 2014, the Eagles converted 57.7 percent of their third-downs to finish at No. 2 in the country. Carson-Newman picked up a pair of top votes and totaled 51 points in the poll from the panel.
At No. 3 in the poll was Newberry. The Wolves posted a 5-6 overall mark and a 3-4 League record to finish the 2014 season tied at No. 4 in the League standings. The Wolves’ air attack connected on 19 passing touchdowns to lead the League, while the Newberry defense ranked No. 22 in the nation in total defense at 298.9 yards allowed per game. In the return game, Newberry led the SAC with a kickoff return average of 22.1 yards per return. The Wolves picked up 39 points from the voters.
The Catawba Indians were voted No. 4 in the poll. The squad finished the 2014 season tied for No. 4 in the League with a 3-4 record to go along with an overall record of 6-5. Catawba led the conference through the air with 217.4 yards per game as it totaled 2,391 total yards on the season. Defensively, the Catawba Indians ranked No. 1in the SAC with 11 fumble recoveries. Catawba earned 37 points from the League’s head coaches.
The league’s head coaches voted Tusculum at the No. 5 slot. The Pioneers finished third in the SAC standings a season ago with a 4-3 record and a 6-5 overall mark. The Tusculum defense was stiff in the red zone as it ranked No. 19 in the nation with opponents scoring just 66 percent of their time inside the 20 yard line. Wide-out Justin Houston led the SAC with six receptions per game to go along with a pair of kickoff returns for a score. The Pioneers collected 30 points from the panel.
Mars Hill and Wingate each finished with 27 points from the panel to tie for the No. 6 slot. The Lions turned in a 4-6 overall record and a 3-4 League record as it finished tied for No. 4 in the SAC standings last season. Mars Hill ranked No. 2 in the League last season with 215 passing yards per game. Wingate closed out its 2014 campaign at 6-5 overall and 3-4 in SAC play to also tie for fourth-place. The Bulldog defense led the SAC with 16 interceptions and four defensive touchdowns during the 2014 season.
Brevard rounded out the poll at No. 8 as it received 14 points from the group. The Tornados ranked No. 1 in the country in red zone offense during the 2014 season as it scored in 93 percent of its trips inside the 20 yard line. Brevard also ranked No. 2 in the nation in time of possession as its veer offense controlled the ball for more than 35 minutes per game. The Tornados finished the 2014 season at 1-10 overall and 0-7 in the League.
The 2015 SAC football season gets underway on Thursday, Sept. 3 with Carson-Newman and Lenoir-Rhyne in action. The rest of the League’s teams kick it off on Saturday, Sept. 5 and Catawba will host 2014 national semifinalist West Georgia at 1:30 pm.
The league office will release the preseason All-SAC teams on Tuesday and will hold its annual Digital Media Day on Wednesday. Catawba Head Coach Curtis Walker will answer questions beginning at 10:05 am.
2015 SAC Coaches’ Preseason Poll
1. Lenoir-Rhyne (6) 55
2. Carson-Newman (2) 51
3. Newberry 39
4. Catawba 37
5. Tusculum 30
6. Mars Hill 27
8. Brevard 14
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Volleyball vs. WINSTON-SALEM ST. 1-3
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