KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Defending Heart of America Athletic Conference co-champion and NAIA Football Championship Series quarterfinalist MidAmerica Nazarene received seven of ten first place votes to sit atop the 2012 HAAC Preseason Coaches' Poll, released Tuesday afternoon at the annual Media Day festivities at Kauffman Stadium.
The Pioneers took 96 of the possible 100 voting points to finish 10 points ahead of runner-up Missouri Valley, which received the remaining three first-place votes as well as three second-place tallies. The two teams will meet in Olathe on September 8th in a matchup between the two teams that shared the conference championship last season.
For the second-straight season, voting was especially tight for third place as Baker edged Benedictine by a 80-78 margin. Baker captured a hard-fought 10-7 victory over Benedictine last November in Baldwin City while the teams will meet in Atchison on November 3.
The next four places in the table were separated by just 13 points as Evangel was picked to finish fifth for the second-straight season after claiming 51 voting points. Central Methodist edged Avila by three points (44-41) for sixth position while Peru State was three points behind the Eagles in eighth place with 38 points. Culver-Stockton and Graceland were two points apart in the final two spots.
The 2012 season kicks off on Saturday, August 25 with four HAAC teams opening their respective seasons with road contests. Graceland faces off against in-state foe Grand View (Iowa) in the first kickoff of the day at 1:00 p.m. Peru State will make the trip to Dakota State (S.D.) to start its season at 4:00 p.m., while the final two games are scheduled to start at 6:00 p.m. with Baker visiting Ottawa and Benedictine going to Concordia (Neb.).
2012 HAAC Preseason Coaches' Poll
School (First Place Votes) - Points
1. MidAmerica Nazarene (7) - 96
2. Missouri Valley (3) - 86
3. Baker - 80
4. Benedictine - 78
5. Evangel - 51
6. Central Methodist - 44
7. Avila - 41
8. Peru State - 38
9. Culver-Stockton - 19
10. Graceland - 17