FINDLAY, Ohio – For the first time since the 2009 season, the University of Saint Francis football team has been picked by a narrow margin by rival coaches to win the Mid-States Football Association Mideast League championship.
Coach Kevin Donley’s Cougars edged Marian University 46-45 in overall voting points and 4-3 in first-place votes. MU, which tied with USF and St. Xavier for the 2012 MEL Championship, finished 12-1 and edged Morningside University (Iowa) 30-27 in overtime to win the 2012 NAIA Football Championship Series title game in December. USF has won 10 MSFA MEL titles in its 15 seasons competing in collegiate football under Donley. USF is 80-13 in MSFA MEL completion.
MU is ranked No. 2 in the NAIA football coaches preseason Top 25 poll behind top-ranked Morningside while USF is No. 5. St. Xavier, which this season will play in the MSFA Midwest League, is ranked No. 4 in the preseason poll and was the unanimous MSFA coaches pick to win the MWL with seven first-place votes, 49 total. St. Ambrose, No. 11 in the NAIA coaches Top 25, was the No. 2 pick in the MWL.
USF, which lost twice at Marian in 2012 (45-38 and 45-34 in the NAIA FCS Quarterfinal round), returns 13 starters and lost eight. MU, which under the new guidance of Mark Henninger, returns 12 starters and lost 10. MU’s top returning player is Tevin Lake, who finished No. 2 in MSFA rushing averaging 133.2 yards per game in 2012. He led the MSFA in scoring with 134 points on 18 rushing TDs, four receiving and two 2-point conversions.
The complete MSFA preseason polls:
USF IN (4- first-place votes) 46 points
Marian (3 first-place votes) 45
St. Francis, IL 31
Siena Heights 24
Robert Morris 23
Concordia, MI 7
Saint Xavier (7 first-place votes) 49
St. Ambrose 37
William Penn 36
Grand View 32
Olivet Nazarene 18
Trinity International 16
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