August 9, 2009 -- NAC RELEASE
Defending NAC champion Aurora unanimous favorite to win football title
WAUKESHA, Wis. -- Aurora University, defending Northern Athletics Conference champion, is the coaches' preseason favorite to win the 2009 NAC football title, receiving all eight first place votes in the poll.
"Obviously, we feel good for the program and kids but a preseason poll is still just a preseason poll," said Aurora Head Coach Rich Duncan. "Football is a 'what have you done for me lately' game, and where you are picked in the beginning has nothing to do with where you may finish in the end." Aurora was picked third in the preseason poll last season before running the table in the NAC (7-0) and compiling a 9-2 overall record.
By winning the conference's inaugural football title, Aurora secured a spot in the NCAA Division III championship tournament where they lost to Monmouth College in the first round. The NAC was formed in 2006, but did not sponsor football as a conference sport until 2008.
The Spartans return a number of all-conference players including running back Ryne Reder (Aurora, Ill./Marmion Academy) and defensive lineman Pat Funk (Morris, Ill.). Reder led the NAC in rushing with 93.1 ypg, while Funk recorded a league leading 9.0 sacks.
Concordia University Wisconsin received 54 poll points for a second place finish in the poll. CUW was last season's favorite in the poll, but finished tied for second in the NAC at 5-2, and were 5-5 overall.
Lakeland College is tabbed third with 45 points. The Muskies tied CUW for a second place finish in the NAC last year, and also finished 5-5 overall.
Lakeland lost both the NAC offensive and defensive players of the year to graduation, but return two first team All-NAC selections and four honorable mention selections.
Benedictine University (4-6, 4-3 NAC) edged out Wisconsin Lutheran College (4-6, 3-4) for the fourth spot with 34 points to WLC's 33.
Concordia University Chicago (3-7, 2-5) was picked sixth with 27 points, Rockford College (2-8, 2-5) seventh with 23, and Maranatha Baptist Bible College (0-10, 0-7) eighth with eight. The Northern Athletics Conference champion will automatically qualify to the 2009 NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.
2009 NAC Football Preseason Coaches' Poll 1. Aurora (8), 64 2. Concordia Wisconsin, 54 3. Lakeland, 45 4. Benedictine, 34 5. Wisconsin Lutheran, 33 6. Concordia Chicago, 27 7. Rockford, 23 8. Maranatha Baptist, 8