CHICAGO –With preseason camp scheduled to begin later this week, the Saint Xavier University football team will begin the 2011 campaign tabbed as the NAIA’s No. 2 team when the 2011 NAIA Football Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll was released by the NAIA national office Monday. Late last week, the Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) released the preseason projections for both its Mideast and Midwest Leagues and the Cougars claimed the top spot in the Mideast League standings after garnering all the first-place votes for 30 points. University of Saint Francis (Ind.) garnered the No. 2 spot in the MSFA Mideast League preseason standings with 24 points and boasts a No. 4 national rating in the preseason poll, while Marian University (Ind.) claimed the No. 3 spot in the MSFA and No. 6 nationally.
“It is very exciting to be ranked this high, but you have to take the preseason ranking with a grain of salt because it is based on what you did the year before,” said Saint Xavier University football coach Mike Feminis. “I truly believe we can be as good or better than we have been the last couple of years (13-1 overall with two semifinals appearances), but we certainly have some big shoes to fill at key positions. The one thing I do know for sure is that everybody will be circling Saint Xavier on their schedule, so each week should present a great challenge.”
Over the last two years, SXU has swept through its regular season slates (11-0), won back-to-back MSFA Mideast League titles and qualified for the semifinals of the NAIA Football Championship Series before falling to the eventual national champions, University of Sioux Falls (S.D.) in 2009 and Carroll College (Mont.) in 2010. The Cougars recently finalized their 2011 slate with the addition of Jamestown College (N.D.). The non-conference game will take place on Saturday, November 12, at noon at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field in Chicago. The Jimmies finished last season with a 5-5 mark and ended the year with a four-game win streak. It will be the first meeting between the two schools on the football field.
“I always want to play the maximum number of games we are allowed, but up until a month ago it looked like we were only going to play 10,” said Feminis. “Jamestown had a team drop them in June, so they were scrambling to find a game as well and it just worked out that we could match up the open date. They have been a solid program in the Dakota Athletic Conference for many years, so it will be nice to play a team from outside of the MSFA.”
Additions to the schedule have not been the only late moves made by the SXU coaching staff. The program has signed some talented transfers this summer to help improve the team’s chances of another big year. The Cougars will gain the services of junior Carven Proctor, a defensive back from NCAA Division II Winona State University (Minn.); sophomore Spencer Nolen, a kicker/punter from NCAA Division I University of Nevada; redshirt freshman Nico Krajecki, a wide receiver from NCAA D-IAA Southern Illinois University; and redshirt freshman Eric Sawicki, a defensive back out of NCAA D-IAA Illinois State University (Ill.).
“All four of these guys can play and I suspect at least a couple of them to help us sooner rather than later,” continued Feminis. “Nolen will handle the punting, which will allow us to let Tom Lynch (the 2010 recipient of the Fred Mitchell Award) to focus on kickoffs and field goals. The other three are very talented and their playing time will be determined on how quickly they grasp our offensive and defensive systems.”
Saint Xavier opens its 2011 season on Saturday, September 3, at home with a MSFA crossover game against Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.). The opener is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field in Chicago.