Eagles picked second in SAC Football Preseason Coaches’ Poll

Eagles picked second in SAC Football Preseason Coaches’ Poll

ROCK HILL, S.C. – Carson-Newman head coach Ken Sparks will find himself in unfamiliar territory when C-N opens the 2011 football season Sept. 1, for the first time since1986, the Eagles are not the preseason favorite in the South Atlantic Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll, released Wednesday.

Defending South Atlantic Conference champion Wingate has been tabbed by league coaches as the preseason favorite to win the 2011 SAC title.

The second place vote is believed to be the first time since 1986 in which the Eagles were not picked first in the preseason poll. C-N went on to the SAC and National Championships that season, and 19 of the next 25 SAC titles.

"This is a new position for us," Sparks said. "It has been a long time since we were picked second, but we didn't play well enough to earn that honor. We've got to get back to work and be hungry to play Carson-Newman football. This team has a good group of seniors that will lead us in the right direction."

Carson-Newman was picked second, receiving 49 points and no first-place votes in the poll.

The Eagles open their 2011 season on Sept. 1 at Glenville State (W.Va.) College.

Wingate, led by 2010 SAC Coach of the Year Joe Reich, received four of the eight first-place votes and had a total of 52 points. The Bulldogs, who advanced to the second round of last season's NCAA Division II playoffs, will look to repeat as SAC champions for the first time in school history.
Lenoir-Rhyne received two first-place votes and finished third in the poll with 42 points. The

Bears, 7-4 (4-3) a year ago, return a strong core led by defending Jacobs Blocking Trophy recipient Chandler Reardon.

Also receiving two votes for the poll's top spot was Tusculum, which was tabbed fourth by the coaches. The Pioneers (40points) will once again feature a prolific passing attack, led by reigning SAC Offensive Player of the Year and All-American candidate Bo Cordell.
Catawba comes in fifth in the preseason poll with 38 points, followed by Newberry (33 points), Mars Hill (26 points) and Brevard (8 points).
The narrow margin separating teams in the preseason coaches' poll is indicative of what promises to be a highly-competitive year in the SAC. The season officially gets underway on Thursday, Sept. 1, with conference play starting Sept. 17.
South Atlantic Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll 

School Points (1st Place Votes)

1. Wingate 52 (4)

2. Carson-Newman 49

3. Lenoir-Rhyne 42 (2)

4. Tusculum 40 (2)

5. Catawba 38

6. Newberry 33

7. Mars Hill 26

8. Brevard 8