|Rk.||Team||Pts.||2017 Rec. (NWC)|
|7||Lewis & Clark||13||1-6|
(Points awarded on a 7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Coaches could not vote for their own teams; numbers in parentheses indicate first place votes)
HILLSBORO, Ore. – Linfield has been selected to claim its 42nd Northwest Conference football title with 49 points, as voted on by conference head coaches.
The Wildcats finished the 2017 season 9-2 overall (7-0 NWC), sitting atop regular season seeding the entire season and claiming the NWC title. Under head coach Joseph Smith, the team advanced to the NCAA playoff second round. Behind NCAA First Team All-America selections Jason Farlow (Ventura, Calif.) and Willy Warne, the Wildcats cruised past Hardin Simmons in the first round of NCAA playoffs, before falling to Mary Hardin-Baylor to cap off the successful season.
Aside from being named NCAA First Team All-America selections, Farlow and Warne were also named to the d3football.com All-West Region First Team, while defensive end Marcus McGovern (Eugene, Ore.) took home Second Team honors, and teammates Chidubem Nnoli and Zach Grate earned Third Team nods. The Wildcats will look to build upon their successful program history in the 2018 season.
George Fox followed, nine points behind Linfield at 40 to rank second. The Bruins recorded an overall record of 7-3 (5-2 conference). Senior offensive lineman Nolan Schuler (Bakersfield, Calif.) was named to the All-West Region Second Team, and also received AFCA Second Team All-America and d3football.com Honorable Mention nods. Teammates Charles Riga (Portland, Ore.) and Caleb Dalzell (Jr., Gresham, Ore.) were d3football.com Honorable Mention selections as well. The Bruins continue to climb the NWC ladder and prove to be a top competitor within the conference.
Third in preseason conference ranking is the Whitworth Pirates, whose 2017 conference record of 5-2 earned them second-place in NWC final standings. With a .800 win percentage and 8-2 overall record on the season, the Pirates led the conference in passing yards and 1st downs, as well as in touchdowns, tied with Linfield and George Fox at 28. Cornerback Taylor Roelofs (Tacoma, Wash.) was awarded Second Team All-West Region honors.
The Boxers of Pacific (Ore.) were voted fourth, bringing in a total of 30 points. The team finished fourth in NWC final standings, finishing the season 4-3 in conference play, and 4-4 overall. pulling in four conference wins and dropping three. Moving up in the poll a spot from last year, All-NWC honorable mention honoree JT Greenough (Tigard, Ore.) will return to help guide the Boxers to another successful season in conference play.
Pacific Lutheran claims fifth with a total of 25 points, finishing the 2017 season with an overall record of 4-4, including a winning conference record of 4-3. The Lutes will see All-NWC Second Team selections Alex Fairhurst (Snohomish, Wash.) and Parker Trewet (Renton, Wash.) return for the 2018 season.
Puget Sound earned 20 points to rank sixth, having finished the 2017 season 2-5 in conference play and 3-6 overall. All-NWC Second Team offensive lineman Zach Losack returns to lead the Loggers in the 2018 season.
Lewis & Clark moves up one spot from 2017 final standings to seventh, accumulating 13 points. The Pioneers finished the 2017 season 2-7 overall (1-6 conference), and will return All-NWC First Team defensive lineman Andrew Werst (Keizer, Ore.) All-NWC Honorable Mention recipients Michael Abraham (Portland, Ore.) and Devon Franklin (Elk Grove, Calif.), and 2017 Freshman of the Year Cameron Chang (Honolulu, Haw.) for the 2018 season.
Willamette rounds out the 2018 preseason poll tallying 8 points overall, coming in eighth after a 2017 conference record of 0-7, and an overall record of 0-9. The Bearcats will see All-NWC Second Team selection Alec Stevenson (Malibu, Calif.), All-NWC Honorable Mention selection Jeremiah James (Salem, Ore.), and starting quarterback Mathew Castaneda (Salinas, Calif.) return for the 2018 season.
The Northwest Conference regular season champion receives the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Football Championship.
Linfield won the 2017 NWC title outright, its ninth straight and 41st overall (33 outright). The Wildcats currently hold the longest streak of NWC titles in conference history and has stretched their string of consecutive winning seasons to 62, which is a record at all levels of college football.
The 2018 NWC football season kicks off on September 1 with five NWC teams competing in non-conference action. Willamette will cross the northern border to face Simon Fraser in British Columbia, Canada. Puget Sound, Pacific (Ore.) and George Fox will make the trip to California to face Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Chapman, and Redlands, respectively. Whitworth will play host to La Verne.