Linfield Favored to Repeat in 2001
|NWC Football Coaches' Pre-Season Poll:||2000 records|
|1. Linfield (Ore.)||(5)||40||9-1||5-0|
|2. Pacific Lutheran (Wash.)||(1)||32||9-2||4-1|
|3. Whitworth (Wash.)||21||6-3||3-2|
|4. Willamette (Ore.)||17||3-7||0-5|
|5. Puget Sound (Wash.)||14||5-4||2-3|
|6. Lewis & Clark (Ore.)||8||3-6||1-4|
(First-place votes in parenthesis. Points awarded on 7-5-4-3-2-1 basis).
Defending Northwest Conference champion Linfield College is a near-unanimous choice to repeat as Northwest Conference champions in 2001. The Wildcats received five of six possible first place votes from NWC coaches and a total of 40 points (out of a possible 42).
Linfield, which won its first NWC title since 1994 last fall, will look to become the first NWC team to repeat as NWC champions since Willamette turned the trick in 1996 and 1997. The Wildcats earned the #1 seed in the NCAA west region after an undefeated regular season las fall, but lost in overtime to Central College (IA) in the second round of the 2000 NCAA playoffs.
Pacific Lutheran, last season's runner-up, received the other first place vote and a total of 32 points in the poll. The Lutes lost in overtime to eventual national runner-up St. John's (MN) in the second round of the NCAA playoffs last season. PLU has advanced to the NCAA playoffs in each of the three years the Lutes have been a member of Division III, including winning the 1999 national title.
Whitworth College is third in the poll with 21 points. The Pirates completed their best season in a decade in 2000.
Willamette University, the University of Puget Sound, and Lewis & Clark College round out the final three places in the poll. Puget Sound and Lewis & Clark hope to continue turnarounds started in 2000 when both turned in their most successful season in several years. Willamette, which won three of four NWC titles between 1996-1999, hopes to rebound from an injury-plagued 2000.
This will be the sixth season since the Northwest Conference readopted football as a conference sport. From 1985 through 1995 the Northwest Conference schools played football as part of the Columbia Football Association and the NAIA. In 1995 the Northwest Conference began the process of joining the NCAA and withdrew from membership in the CFA.