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January 2020
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Wabash Little Giants are the team to beat in North Coast Athletic Conference 2019 Football race

CLEVELAND, OH – After earning a share of the 2018 North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) championship with Wittenberg and Denison, Wabash has been picked to repeat as conference champions according to balloting of the league’s football coaches.

Wabash, who produced a 9-1 overall record in 2018, collected six of the possible 10 first-place votes and 96 points overall. The Wittenberg Tigers, also 9-1 last fall, were slotted second after compiling three first-place votes and 90 total points; Denison earned the final first-place vote and 80 points overall, good for third in the rankings. The Big Red finished last season with an 8-3 record and made their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1985. The fourth spot went to the DePauw Tigers who racked up 61 points while Wooster claimed fifth with 54 points. Ohio Wesleyan (53) was ranked sixth, just one point behind the Fighting Scots. Allegheny took seventh with 51 points while Oberlin (30) was ranked eighth, Hiram (23) ninth and Kenyon (12) in 10th.

The Little Giants, guided by head coach Don Morel, go into 2019 ranked No. 14 in Division III according to the Lindy’s Top 25 preseason rankings. In three seasons with Morel at the helm, Wabash is 25-5 and looks for back-to-back conference titles for the first time since winning the 2006-08 titles. The Little Giants return two all-conference running backs in the form of seniors Isaac Avant (Indianapolis, IN/Warren Central) and Ike James (Lowell, IN/Lowell). Avant ranked second in the NCAC and 25th in the nation with 1,179 rushing yards to earn first team all-conference honors last season. James led the conference and was 15th in the nation with 1,311 rushing yards as an All-NCAC first-team selection in 2017, missing last season with an injury.

Nine starters are back on the defensive side of the ball for Wabash, including 2018 NCAC Newcomer of the Year Jose Franco (Bronx, NY/Cardinal Hayes). The sophomore cornerback will be joined by five all-conference defensive starters: seniors Brandon Yeagy (Lafayette, IN/Central Catholic) and Brock Heffron (Chandler, AZ/Perry), as well as juniors Jake Page (West Lafayette, IN/Central Catholic)Blair Brody (Goodyear, AZ/Verrado) and Don Schuch (Crown Point, IN/Crown Point).

The 2019 NCAC football season will kick off Sept. 7 with a slate of eight non-conference games. The conference portion of the schedule will begin Sept. 14 with three games, Oberlin at Wooster, Wittenberg at Hiram and Ohio Wesleyan at Kenyon.


2019 North Coast Athletic Conference Football Preseason Coaches’ Poll
(first-place votes in parentheses, followed by total points)
1. Wabash (6) 96
2. Wittenberg (3) 90
3. Denison (1) 80
4. DePauw 61
5. Wooster 54
6. Ohio Wesleyan 53
7. Allegheny 51
8. Oberlin 30
9. Hiram 23
10. Kenyon 12