Linfield Expected to Win NWC Title in Football

2012 NWC Football Coaches' Pre-Season Poll:

2011 records

School

(1st)

Pts.

All

NWC

1. Linfield (Ore.)

(6)

42

10-1

6-0

2. Pacific Lutheran (Wash.)

 

29

6-3

4-2

3. Whitworth (Wash.)

(1)

26

4-6

3-3

4. Lewis & Clark (Ore.)

 

19

7-2

4-2

5. Willamette (Ore.)

 

17

4-6

3-3

6. Pacific (Ore.)

 

15

1-8

1-5

7. Puget Sound (Wash.)

 

  6

0-9

0-6

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

Linfield College, currently ranked No. 5 in the D3football.com preseason poll, is a strong favorite to be Northwest Conference football champions in 2012, according to the preseason poll of league coaches.  NWC Coach of the Year Joseph Smith led Linfield to its third consecutive conference championship last season.

The Wildcats, who advanced to the NCAA Division III second round last year and finished 10-1, picked up six out of seven first place votes and totaled 42 points in the poll. Linfield returns five First Team All-NWC selections in senior Mickey Inns (QB), senior Josh Hill (RB), senior Tyler Steele (DL), junior Dominique Forrest (LB), and senior Josh Kay (PK).  Steele also received third team D3football.com All-American honors while Kay was a finalist for the Fred Mitchell Award saluting the nation’s top kicker.

Pacific Lutheran finished behind the favorites in the poll with 29 points.  The Lutes graduated three First Team All-NWC players, but Second Team All-NWC DB Sean McFadden returns for his junior season.

Whitworth is third in the poll with 26 points and one first place vote.  The Pirates return eight starters on offense and seven on defense from 2011.  Much of their offensive production will be on senior RB Ronnie Thomas, who earned First Team All-NWC honors last season.

Lewis & Clark (19 points) just edged out Willamette (17 points) for fourth place in the poll.  The Pioneers will be commanded by Chris Sulages, who earned D3fooltball.com’s 2011 West Region Coach of the Year after leading the team to its first winning season since 1962.  The 2011 NWC Offensive Player of the Year Keith Welch (QB) returns to direct the Pioneer offense.

The Bearcats will look to First Team All-NWC honorees Jake Knecht (WR) and Taylor Reeder (OT) on offense and Cody Pastorino (S) on the defensive side of the ball.  Willamette also welcomes back junior tailback Terrell Malley, who sat out last season after being Willamette’s leading rusher in 2010.

Pacific (Ore.) is sixth in the poll with 15 points.  In 2011, the Boxers received their first victory since the program was reinstated for the 2010 season. Junior WR Jordan Fukumoto will return after becoming the first All-NWC First Team selection for the Boxers since 1984 last year.

Puget Sound rounds out the poll with 7 points.  The Loggers return WR Adam Kniffin, who received First Team All-NWC honors a year ago as well as First Team Preseason All-American honors from D3football.com last month. 

The season will get underway on August 30th when Pacific hosts Simon Fraser.

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