August 4, 2009

Willamette Edges Linfield in Football Coaches Poll

2009 NWC Football Coaches' Pre-Season Poll: 2008 records
School (1st) Pts. All NWC
1. Willamette (Ore.) (4) 47 11-1 6-0
2. Linfield (Ore.) (3) 45 6-3 5-1
3. Whitworth (Wash.)   37 6-3 4-2
4. Pacific Lutheran (Wash.)   27 3-6 3-3
5. Menlo (Calif.)   19 3-7 2-4
6. Puget Sound (Wash.)   17 3-6 1-5
6. Lewis & Clark (Ore.)   7 1-8 0-6
(First-place votes in parenthesis. Points awarded on 8-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis).

For the first time in nine years Linfield is not the Northwest Conference football favorite as defending champion Willamette edged the Wildcats in the 2009 coaches poll.  The Bearcats had four first place votes, while Linfield had three.

Running back Deon Horne and offensive lineman Scott Hirschberger, both returning First Team All-NWC players, will lead the Willamette offense in 2009.  The Bearcats also welcome back DB Arlin Tyler from last year when the team finished 11-1 overall and swept through the NWC at 6-0.  Willamette totaled 47 points in the poll.

Linfield was second in the poll with 45 points and return the linebacking tandem of Alex Tkachuk and Jaymin Jackson from the top NWC defense of 2008, when the team went 6-3 overall and 5-1 in the NWC.  The Wildcats had been picked first in the previous eight NWC preseason coaches polls.

Whitworth (6-3, 4-2 in 2008) totaled 37 points in the poll for third place and is trying to regain the title after winning in 2006 and 2007. The Pirates return eight starters on offense, including two-time NWC Offensive Player of the Year Adam Anderson, who led NCAA Division III in all-purpose yards last season.

Pacific Lutheran, which welcomes back First Team All-NWC wide receiver Greg Ford, is fourth in the poll with 27 points. The Lutes will look to bounce back from a 3-6, 3-3 season in 2008.

Menlo, in its fourth season as an affiliate (football-only) member of the conference, is fifth in the poll with 19 points, while Puget Sound is sixth in the poll with 17 points. Menlo led by linebacker Justin Wise, will be playing under first year head coach Fred Guidici. Second Team All-NWC QB Kavin Williams will direct the UPS attack in 2009.

Lewis & Clark was seventh in the poll with seven points.

The season will officially get underway on September 5th when Menlo hosts Occidental and Willamette plays at Concordia-Moorhead, while Whitworth heads to Hardin-Simmons. Linfield, L&C, PLU and UPS will begin play the following week.

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