Linfield Selected by NWC Coaches to Win Fifth-Straight Title

 

2013 NWC Preseason Football Coaches' Poll:

2012 records

School

First-Place
Votes

Pts.

All

NWC

Linfield

(5)

40

11-1

6-0

Pacific Lutheran

(2)

34

7-3

5-1

Willamette

 

24

8-2

4-2

Whitworth

 

20

7-3

3-3

Pacific (Ore.)

 

19

3-6

2-4

Lewis & Clark

 

11

4-5

1-5

Puget Sound

 

6

0-9

0-6

(Points awarded on 7-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Coaches cannot vote for their own team)

SEATTLE, Wash. – The Linfield Wildcats have been selected by the coaches of the Northwest Conference (NWC) as the preseason favorites to repeat as conference champions. Linfield received five of the seven first-place votes and earned a total of 40 points in the poll.

Linfield has won four consecutive NWC titles and 2012 NWC Coach of the Year Joseph Smith has his team's eyes on a fifth. The Wildcats are the fourth-ranked team in Division III according to D3football.com's Preseason Top 25 Poll, earning five first-place votes.

In 2012, Linfield fell in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III playoffs to University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, 31-24 in overtime. It was Linfield's only loss of 2012.

Headed into 2013, Linfield loses 2012 NWC Offensive Player of the Year Mickey Inns. The quarterback threw for 3288 yards and 30 touchdowns in his senior season. However, the Wildcats do bring back 2012 NWC Defensive Player of the Year in Dominique Forrest. The junior linebacker had 79 total tackles, nine for a loss, along with three sacks and four interceptions.

Finishing in second-place in the poll, the Pacific Lutheran Lutes received two first-place votes and a total of 34 points. Pacific Lutheran is ranked 13th in the preseason D3football.com Top 25 poll. 

A season ago, the Lutes were ousted in the first round of the Division III playoffs by conference foe Linfield, 27-24, and finished with a 7-3 overall record.

Pacific Lutheran returns First Team All-NWC QB Dalton Ritchey and WR Kyle Warner on offense and DL Mychael Tuiasospo, LB Jordan Patterson and DB Sean McFadden on defense. The Lutes are poised to give a serious challenge to the four-time defending conference champion Wildcats.

After a solid 8-2 season, the Willamette Bearcats are projected to finish third in the NWC in 2013. Willamette earned 24 points in the coaches' poll and also earned 14 points in the preseason D3football.com Top 25 poll.

The Bearcats have a tall task to fill the spots left by eight players from 2012 that earned First or Second Team All-NWC honors. Willamette does, however, return Second Team All-NWC QB Josh Dean who threw for 3345 yards and 34 touchdowns against 12 interceptions in his junior season.

Selected to finish behind Willamette in fourth are the Whitworth Pirates, earning 20 points in the poll. Whitworth had a solid 2012 season finishing 7-3 overall.

The Pirates will lose a little firepower on offense in 2013 with the departures of RB Ronnie Thomas and WR Jake DeGooyer, both First Team All-NWC a season ago. They do, however, return 16 of 22 starters from last season's squad, and the experienced Pirates will look to be contenders in 2013.

Chosen just behind Whitworth in fifth by the NWC coaches are the Pacific (Ore.) Boxers, earning 19 points in the poll. 

Look for the Boxers to improve upon a 3-6 record (2-4 NWC) from a season ago. Pacific (Ore.) returns 21 of 22 offensive and defensive starters from 2012, all 11 on offense, including Honorable Mention All-NWC QB P.J. Minaya.

The Lewis & Clark Pioneers have been selected to finish sixth in the NWC, receiving 11 points in the poll. 

In 2012, the Pioneers finished just 1-5 in conference play but were 4-5 overall. Lewis & Clark returns All-NWC Honorable Mention QB Keith Welch for his senior season. Welch threw for 2334 yards and 18 touchdowns with ten interceptions in 2012.

Rounding out the 2013 NWC Preseason Coaches' Poll are the University of Puget Sound Loggers, earning six points.

The Loggers return one All-NWC First Team selection in punter Jeff Walton but have a massive pair of shoes to fill after the graduation of All-NWC First Team wide receiver Adam Kniffin. Kniffin holds all the major receiving records for Puget Sound after becoming the first Logger with a 1,000-yard season in his senior season.

The 2013 season gets underway on Friday, Sept. 6 as Pacific (Ore.) visits Adrian and Willamette hosts Hardin-Simmons.

-- Article compiled by Northwest Conference Sports Information Director Christopher Brown. Votes given by head coaches of the Northwest Conference.

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