Concordia Chicago was the coaches choice in the Northern Athletics Conference preseason football poll, followed by Lakeland and Concordia Wisconsin, the conference announced Wednesday.
The Cougars are coming off their best campaign in the program's 87-year history with an 8-2 overall record and 5-2 in the NAC. They finished in a three-way tie for second place and just a game back of 2009 champions Lakeland. The top scoring team in the NAC returns their quarterback and NAC Co-Offensive Player of the Year Mike Marotta and the league's top rusher Khyre Copeland.
Lakeland, picked second in the poll, finished last season at 6-5 overall and 6-1 in the NAC. The Muskies made their second appearance in the NCAA III Championship, falling to eventual champion UW-Whitewater in a first round game last season.
Concordia Wisconsin (5-5, 5-2 NAC) was picked third in the poll, Wisconsin Lutheran College (5-5, 4-3) fourth and 2008 NAC Champions Aurora (4-6, 2-5) fifth. Benedictine (6-4, 5-2), Rockford (1-9, 1-6) and Maranatha (0-10, 0-7) rounded out the bottom of the preseason poll.
Rockford kicks off the 2010 season with a Thursday, Sept. 2, nonconference game at the University of Dubuque, while the seven other NAC teams open play with nonconference games on Saturday, Sept. 4. Conference play begins on Saturday, Oct. 2, and concludes on Saturday, Nov. 13.
The NAC champion becomes the conference's automatic qualifier in the 2010 NCAA III Football Championship.
2010 NAC Preseason Poll
1. Concordia Chicago (3), 57
2. Lakeland (3), 54
3. Concordia Wisconsin, 50
4. Wisconsin Lutheran (2), 38
5. Aurora, 33
6. Benedictine, 32
7. Rockford, 14
8. Maranatha, 10
*first place votes in parentheses