NAIA
NAIA
Football - Mon, Apr. 20, 2009
News Photo

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Coming off of the best seasons in program history, Union College has garnered a No. 9 ranking in the third-ever NAIA Football Coaches' Top 25 Spring Poll, the NAIA released Monday.

The Bulldogs went 9-3 overall and 5-1 in the Mid-South Conference East, advancing to the NAIA Football Championship Series for the first-time ever. Union ended the 2008 campaign at No. 10.

Union collected 224 total points, 24 fewer than No. 8 MidAmerican Nazarene (Kan.) University and nine more than Friends (Kan.) University.

The University of Sioux Falls (S.D.) is No. 1. USF 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 view the complete poll, click here.