Kansas City, Mo. - Nearly a week into the preseason practice sessions, it did not take long for the Saint Xavier University football team to get some good news. The Cougars will carry a No. 4 national ranking into the new season following the release of the 2010 NAIA Football Coaches' Preseason Top 25 Poll late Monday by the NAIA national office. In addition, the Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) released its preseason projections for both leagues (Mideast and Midwest) and SXU claimed the top spot in the Mideast League standings after garnering 62 points and six first-place votes. Walsh University (Ohio) nabbed the No. 2 spot in the MSFA preseason standings with 52 points and one first-place vote, while University of Saint Francis (Ind.) came in at No. 3 with 51 points and a first-place vote. In the national preseason poll, those two squads hold the No. 16 and No. 17 spots, respectively.
"I know we will be the team that is circled on everyone's schedule in the MSFA and that's fine with us," said Saint Xavier University football coach Mike Feminis
. "I honestly believe we should be even better than last year, but you don't win a national championship on paper. The talent is definitely there and I really like what I've seen so far in camp. The young guys seem to be catching on quickly and the veterans are chomping at the bit. That game against Sioux Falls (S.D.) left a bitter taste in their mouths."
Last season, the Cougars wrapped up its best season in the program's 17-year history going a perfect 11-0 during the regular season, winning its first MSFA Mideast League title and qualifying for the quarterfinals of the NAIA Championships Series before falling to eventual national champion University of Sioux Falls (S.D.). The Cougars return a number of talented players from last year's squad, which finished first in the NAIA in total offense (516.0 ypg) in 2009. The offensive returnees includes senior quarterback Anthony Kropp
(Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East), a pair of 1,000+ yard receivers in seniors Mike Maher
(Plainfield, Ill./Providence Catholic) and Xavier Torres
(Chicago, Ill./Central Michigan/Lane Tech) and its top two rushers in senior Donnie Selby
(Alsip, Ill./Shepard) and junior KJ Franklin
(Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee). On the defensive side, senior cornerback Pat Geary
(Mokena, Ill./Lincoln-Way East), senior linebacker Brendan Sheehy
(Chicago, Ill./Brother Rice) and junior defensive tackle Patrick Appino
(Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic) all return after big seasons a year ago.
Saint Xavier opens its 2010 campaign on Thursday, August 26, with a non-conference road game against Bethel University (Tenn.). The opener is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start at Wildcat Stadium in McKenzie, Tenn.