Junior Jimmy Coy (left) and senior Pat Appino (right) hold up the NAIA National Championship trophy
Junior Jimmy Coy (left) and senior Pat Appino (right) hold up the NAIA National Championship trophy
Football - Mon, Dec. 19, 2011

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Saint Xavier (Ill.) took home its first-ever national championship and was rewarded with the No. 1 ranking in the NAIA Football Coaches' Postseason Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Monday.  The Cougars defeated Carroll (Mont.), 24-20, on Dec. 17 in the 56th Annual Russell Athletic-NAIA Football National Championship game held in Rome, Ga.  SXU had held the No. 1 position for eight consecutive weeks earlier this season from Sept. 12 - Oct. 31.

Saint Xavier earned all 15 first-place votes and 340 total points.  Behind a school-best 14-1 record, the Cougars became the first program since Carroll in 2002 to win the national title in their first championship game appearance.  Hailing from the Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) Mideast League, SXU ends the year with 29-straight top-five rankings.  National runner-up Carroll gathered 326 total points to lock down the No. 2 position.  Marian (Ind.), who was ranked No. 1 in the final two regular-season polls, drops down to third with 315 points.  No. 4 Georgetown (Ky.) and No. 5 Azusa Pacific (Calif.) round out the top five with 300 and 283 points, respectively.

The Cougars made the biggest improvement by vaulting up four positions.  Azusa Pacific and No. 8 University of St. Francis (Ill.) both made three-spot jumps. Conversely, No. 16 Valley City State (N.D.) tumbled the farthest sliding down four slots.  The Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC) and MSFA Midwest League lead all conferences and independents with four teams apiece in the Top 25.  The HAAC places No.6 MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.), No. 10 Missouri Valley, No. 13 Benedictine (Kan.) and No. 21 Baker (Kan.) in the ranking.  Representing the MSFA Midwest is No. 8 St. Francis, No. 15 William Penn (Iowa), No. 18 Grand View (Iowa) and No. 22 Saint Ambrose (Iowa).

The 2012 Spring Top 25 Poll is scheduled to be announced on April 18.

The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences and independents.

NOTES: (All information dates back to 1999)  Saint Xavier (Ill.) becomes the fourth different team to hold the No. 1 postseason ranking since this installment began in 2000 ... There were no newcomers in this poll compared to the final-regular season edition on Nov. 13 ... There were 41 different teams ranked in 2011, with 14 of those being listed in each poll ... No. 6 MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) has been ranked in the top 10 for the last 32-straight polls ... Carroll (Mont.) leads all institutions with 56 first-place rankings and is followed by former NAIA member Sioux Falls (S.D.) (55), Georgetown (Ky.) (23) and Northwestern Oklahoma State (11) ... Carroll extended its streak of consecutive top-five appearances with 90 ... No. 7 Saint Francis (Ind.) leads the NAIA with 154-straight mentions in the Top 25 ... Following Saint Francis among consecutive appearances is Carroll with 140, MidAmerica Nazarene with 66, No. 9 Morningside (Iowa) with 59 and Saint Xavier with 46.

2011 NAIA Football Coaches' Postseason Top 25 Poll
 

RANK

LAST WEEK

SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)

2011 RECORD

TOTAL POINTS

1

5

Saint Xavier (Ill.) (15)

14-1

340

2

2

Carroll (Mont.)

13-2

326

3

1

Marian (Ind.)

12-1

315

4

3

Georgetown (Ky.)

12-1

300

5

8

Azusa Pacific (Calif.)

9-3

283

6

4

MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.)

10-3

279

7

9

Saint Francis (Ind.)

9-3

262

8

11

St. Francis (Ill.)

11-3

252

9

6

Morningside (Iowa)

9-3

227

10

7

Missouri Valley

9-2

224

11

10

Ottawa (Kan.)

9-3

206

12

14

Southern Nazarene (Okla.)

9-3

181

13

15

Benedictine (Kan.)

9-3

177

14

13

Bethel (Tenn.)

8-3

171

15

16

William Penn (Iowa)

9-2

152

16

12

Valley City State (N.D.)

9-2

149

17

17

Northwestern (Iowa)

9-2

136

18

18

Grand View (Iowa)

8-4

131

19

20

Doane (Neb.)

8-2

97

19

19

Eastern Oregon

8-3

97

21

21

Baker (Kan.)

7-3

89

22

22

St. Ambrose (Iowa)

7-3

73

23

23

Langston (Okla.)

7-3

62

24

24

Cumberlands (Ky.)

7-3

48

25

25

Cumberland (Tenn.)

7-3

22

     

Others receiving votes:  Bethany (Kan.) 5; Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) 3.