Hawks football ranked 11th in Top 25 Spring Poll

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AJ Cooley will return to the Hawks next season

AJ Cooley will return to the Hawks next season

April 21, 2009

Kansas City, Mo. - In the third ever NAIA Football Coaches' Top 25 Spring Poll, the Shorter College Hawks are ranked the 11th team in the country. The 2008 team finished the season with nine wins and three losses, and advanced to the NAIA National Playoff Championship, after beating Bethel College in the final game of the regular season to earn the Mid-South Conference Western Division Championship.

The University of Sioux Falls (S.D.) is No. 1, having won its third National Championship and second in the last three seasons after a 23-7 triumph over Carroll (Mont.) on Dec. 20 from Rome, Ga. The Cougars, who own the nation's longest winning streak at 14 games, earned 340 total points and all 15 of the possible first-place votes. USF has now been either No. 1 or No. 2 for the last 33 consecutive polls.

The Cougars, under fifth-year head coach Kalen DeBoer, will return 17 starters including senior quarterback Lorenzo Brown and senior offensive lineman T.J. Wendt. Brown is a dual threat under center, being named the Championship Game Offensive Most Valuable Player after he finished with 129 rushing yards on 19 carries (6.8 ypc) and 69 passing yards for one touchdown. Wendt was a 2008 AFCA Coaches' All-America pick after helping the Cougars rank sixth in the country in rushing offense (235.6 ypg) and 10th in scoring offense (36.5 ppg).

With a national runner-up position, Carroll claims the No. 2 spot with 327 total points. The Fighting Saints are gunning for their 10th straight Frontier Conference title under head coach Mike Van Diest. CC returns senior quarterback Gary Wagner but loses 2008 Rawlings-NAIA Player of the Year, Owen Koeppen on the defensive side.

No. 3 Lindenwood (Mo.) will try to build on the school's first ever Semifinal appearance. The Lions are 21-4 over the last two seasons, which sets a school record for a two-year span. No. 4 Saint Francis (Ind.) lists 12 returning starters and look for its eighth straight season of 10 or more wins. With 16 starters returning, No. 5 Morningside (Iowa) was the No. 1 scoring offense last season with 48 points per game. However, the Mustangs will have to fill the hole of graduating quarterback Ian Gilworth.

The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences and independents.

To see the complete poll, click here.

Shorter College Football
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