Tuesday, August 12, 2008


WACO, TEX.-- Defending national champion Valdosta State opens the season at No. 1 in the 2008 preseason American Football Coaches Association Division II Coaches’ Poll.

Valdosta State received 17 of a possible 26 first place votes and will look to win their third national title in five years in 2008. A semifinalist from last year, Grand Valley State received six first place votes and begins the season at No. 2. Last year’s national runner-up, Northwest Missouri State starts off 2008 at No. 3 and received one first place vote. North Alabama begins this year the same as it did last season, at No. 4. California (Pa.) comes in at No. 5 after its semifinal run in the 2007 NCAA playoffs.

Carson-Newman received two first place votes and sits No. 6 in the Coaches’ preseason poll. No. 7 Nebraska-Omaha begins its season on Sept. 6 hosting Nebraska-Kearney, while No. 8 Abilene Christian has a Top 10 matchup against No. 3 Northwest Missouri State on Aug. 30. No. 9 Chadron State is picked to win the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference for a third consecutive year. West Texas A&M begins this season at No. 10 and looks to improve on its second round appearance in the 2007 playoffs.

Central Washington starts 2008 in the same place it ended last season, at No. 11. Defending Gulf South Conference champion, Delta State, is ranked No. 12, while four-time defending WVIAC champion, Shepherd, sits 13th in the preseason Coaches’ Poll. Tuskegee comes in at No. 14 after finishing 2007 at 12-0 and earning the Sheridan Broadcasting Network Black College National Championship. No. 15 Ashland begins the 2008 season with a Top 25 matchup against No. 25 Bloomsburg on Aug. 30.

No. 16 West Chester starts its season by traveling to No. 5 California (Pa.), while No. 17 Pittsburg State travels to Central Oklahoma. No. 18 Texas A&M-Commerce looks to improve on its 5-6 record from a year ago. Catawba and conference rival Newberry start this year’s poll at No. 19 and No. 20, respectively.

No. 21 Indiana (Pa.) starts off its 2008 season by playing new conference member C.W. Post on Sept. 6. Minnesota-Duluth is ranked No. 22 after being picked to win the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference in its first season in the league. Mesa State ended 2007 with a 10-2 mark and starts out at No. 23 in the Coaches’ Poll. No. 24 Southern Connecticut State is the preseason favorite to take the Northeast 10 title, while No. 25 Virginia Union is picked to win the Eastern Division of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association.

Conference Breakdown: Pennsylvania State Athletic-4 (California (Pa.), West Chester, Indiana (Pa.), Bloomsburg); Lone Star-3 (Abilene Christian, West Texas A&M, Texas A&M-Commerce); Gulf South-3 (Valdosta St., North Alabama, Delta St.); MIAA-3 (Northwest Missouri St., Nebraska-Omaha, Pittsburg St.); South Atlantic-3 (Carson-Newman, Catawba, Newberry); Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic-2 (Grand Valley St., Ashland); Rocky Mountain Athletic-2 (Chadron St., Mesa St.); Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association-1 (Virginia Union); Great Northwest Athletic-1 (Central Washington); Northeast 10-1 (Southern Connecticut St.); Northern Sun Intercollegiate-1 (Minnesota-Duluth); Southern Intercollegiate Athletic-1 (Tuskegee); West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic-1 (Shepherd).

The Poll
The AFCA Division II Coaches’ Poll follows the same format as the Football Bowl Subdivision and Division III polls. A Division II Board of Coaches, made up of 26 AFCA-member head coaches from NCAA Division II schools around the country, will vote each Sunday for the top 25 teams in the division. All Division II football-playing conferences are represented on the voting board, as well as independent schools. The poll will be released on Tuesdays during the regular season, see the results at www.afca.com.

Poll Points
Forty-two schools spent at least one week ranked in the 2007 AFCA Coaches’ Poll ... Fifteen schools were ranked in the Top 25 all 14 weeks the poll was released in 2007 (Abilene Christian, California (Pa.), Carson-Newman, Chadron St., Delta St., Grand Valley St., Midwestern St., Nebraska-Omaha, North Alabama, North Dakota, Northwest Missouri St., Shepherd, Valdosta St., West Chester, West Texas A&M) ... Eventual 2007 national champion Valdosta St. was ranked No. 6 at the beginning of the 2007 season ... Since the AFCA Division II Coaches’ Top 25 debuted in 2000, Grand Valley State has been ranked No. 1 for 68 weeks ... The other six schools which have appeared No. 1 in the AFCA Division II Coaches’ Top 25 poll are Northwest Missouri State (12 weeks), Valdosta State (11), Delta State (seven), Pittsburg State (four), Saginaw Valley State (three) and North Dakota (one) ... Pittsburg State’s record of consecutive weeks being ranked in the Division II Top 25 Poll ended on Nov. 6, 2007, stopping their mark at 105 straight weeks.