August 4, 2012

Hampden-Sydney picked to repeat in ODAC

Hampden-Sydney received four first place votes on the way to 46 total poll points to lead the 2012 ODAC Football Preseason Poll. The top of the rankings are tightly packed, with Randolph-Macon clipping at H-SC's heels with 44 tallies including three top nods. Washington and Lee rounds out the top three with 37 points and the remaining first place selection from the annual coaches' survey.

View the 2012 ODAC Football Virtual Media Guide and listen to ODAC Football Media Day news conference interviews with coaches and players.

The 2011 season marked the third conference crown for reigning ODAC Coach of the Year Marty Favret's Tigers. Their victory over Washington and Lee in week 10 proved crucial as H-SC was tripped up in week 11 by R-MC, leaving the Tigers' head-to-head advantage over W&L as the deciding factor in securing H-SC's ninth overall league crown. Hampden-Sydney's season continued with a NCAA first round game at Centre, where the Tigers were out-gunned, 51-41.

The path to the 2012 ODAC championship will be longer for all teams in the league as Shenandoah opens conference play, increasing the league's football membership to eight schools. SU, previously a member of the USA South for the majority of its sports, became the ODAC's 14th full-time member institution in July, completing a process that will see the Hornets compete in each of their 20 sports under the ODAC flag.

Hampden-Sydney (8-3 overall, 5-1 in the ODAC in 2011) begins its third title defense in the last five years as it tries to become the first team to win back-to-back titles since Bridgewater College won five straight crowns from 2001-05. Known for a high-octane offense, the Tigers must replace standouts from each area of its offense positions. Coach Favret will look to sophomore transfer Nash Nance (University of Tennessee) to win the quarterback job out of camp. He'll have senior running back Evan King (161 yds, 4 TDs) helping him in the backfield. H-SC's defense should be a team strength with senior linebackers Kenny Fryman (102 tackles, 2.5 sacks) and Alex Price (78 tackles) and junior cornerback Zach Morgan (67 tackles, 7 INTs) leading the charge.

Randolph-Macon (8-2, 4-2 ODAC) is bolstered by the return of 2011 ODAC Rookie of the Year, quarterback Zac Naccarato (2105 yds, 14 TDs passing; 6 TDs rushing). He's supported by senior running back Drake Sanders (711 yds, 6 TDs) and junior wide receiver Christian Cook (48 rec for 592 yds, 4 TDs). Defensively, junior linebacker Abel Simpson (50 tkl) was the Yellow Jackets' second leading tackler in 2011. He's joined by senior cornerback Brandon Harrison (49 tkl, 6 PBUs). Senior kicker Josh Storm (12-of-16 FG, 38-of-40 PATs) is on the watch list for the Fred Mitchell Award as the nation's best place-kicker among FCS, Division II, Division III, NAIA and NJCAA football teams.

Washington and Lee (8-2, 5-1 ODAC) begins its first season since 1995 with a new leader as Scott Abell was promoted from offensive coordinator to take over the head coaching reins from long-time mentor Frank Miriello, who retired following the 2011 campaign. Although he'll be breaking in a new starting quarterback this season, Coach Abell welcomes back all three of his starting backs from a multiple option offense that has set numerous ODAC rushing records the past few years. Senior Luke Heinsohn (900 yds, 13 TDs) will serve as the option back, while classmates Brett Murray (1,561 all-purpose yards, 867 rushing yards, 12 TDs) and Russell Stewart (511 yards of offense, 5 TDs) will man the slotback positions. The defense is led by preseason All-American senior safety Jake Pelton (76 tkl, 2 INTs, 7 PBUs).

Bridgewater (6-4, 3-3 ODAC) will look for newcomers and young returning players to take the next step on offense, led by senior quarterback Carlos Gonzalez (140-of-269, 1788 yds, 15 TDs). The defense will again be stout with several standouts along the defensive line. Interior linemen, seniors Danny Grogg (40 tkl, 2 sacks, 3 forced fumbles) and Joel Francis (32 tkl, 1.5 sacks, 7 TFLs) spearhead a unit that also showcases senior linebacker Todd Harris (47 tkl, 2 forced fumbles).

Emory & Henry College (5-5, 2-4 ODAC) features standouts on both sides of the ball, led by reigning ODAC Defensive Player of the Year, senior linebacker Devan Sproles (107 tkl, 6 INTs). He's joined by senior defensive backs Jason Hill (64 tkl, 2 INTs) and Anthony Jones (49 tkl, 2 INTs) and junior defensive back Tyler Houk (61 tkl, 3 INTs). The offense is led by junior signal-caller Kyle Boden (256-of-398, 2569 yds, 21 TDs).

Catholic University (5-5, 1-5 ODAC) returns a potent offensive quartet in senior quarterback Greg Cordivari (321-of-505, 3282 yds, 25 TDs), junior running back Mike Pitsenberger (889 yds of offense, 7 TDs), and a pair of wide receivers in senior Alonzo Cooke (37 for 539 yds, 5 TDs) and junior Andrew Ouellette (54 for 661 yds, 5 TDs). The defense is led by junior linebacker Conor Stueckler (95 tkl, 2 INTs, 2 fumble recoveries).

Guilford College (2-8, 1-5 ODAC) sports a trio of sophomore defensive standouts in linebacker Robert Smith (64 tkl, 2 forced fumbles) and defensive backs Hunter English (65 tkl, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles) and Satiir Stevenson (51 tkl, 2 INTs, 5 PBUs). The offense will look to junior signal-caller Zac Halbert (158-of-296, 1877 yds, 15 TDs) and junior wide receiver Lawrence Blake (55 for 634 yards, 4 TDs) to lead the way.

Shenandoah (6-4, 5-2 USA South) must replace plenty of firepower on offense, with senior running back Carl Joseph (720 yds, 3 TDs) and senior wide receiver Qiydaar Murphy (58 for 609 yds, 4 TDs) looking to do just that. The defense is highlighted by the return of top tackler, junior linebacker Josh Rogers (87 tkl, 14 TFLs, 3 forced fumbles), senior lineman Nick Erdman (35 tkl, 12 TFLs, 5 sacks) and junior safety Byron Mitchell (79 tkl, 4 INTs).

2012 ODAC FOOTBALL PRESEASON POLL
(#) Denotes first place votes

1. Hampden-Sydney (4) 46 pts.
2. Randolph-Macon (3) 44 pts.
3. Washington and Lee (1) 37 pts.
4. Bridgewater 32 pts.
5. Emory & Henry 23 pts.
6. Catholic 20 pts.
T7. Guilford 11 pts.
T7. Shenandoah 11 pts.
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