Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) released the 2018 Football Preseason Coaches Poll last week. Iowa Wesleyan received the seventh place nod after finishing the 2017 season with a 2-7 record in conference play.
MacMurray College edged out the College of Saint Scholastica by two points to take the top spot in the poll. The Highlanders finished with a total of 57 points and four first place votes, while the Saints finished with 55 points and two first place votes.
Iowa Wesleyan received 22 points in the poll and will look to improve as head coach, Mike Richtman, begins his third season at the helm.
The IW defense will return three core players from a defense that finished 2017 tied for second in sacks (25 sacks for 112 yards) on the year. Austin Ferguson recorded 72 total tackles which included three sacks and nine tackles for a loss. Ferguson earned UMAC Academic All-Conference, USCAA National All-Academic, and USCAA All-Football First Team honors. Joe Mosley returns to the Tigers after earning All-UMAC Second Team Defensive Back and Kick Returner honors. Mosley was also a USCAA All-Football First Team recipient. Also back for another season for the Tigers is Noah Ross. Ross was responsible for 43 tackles, a forced fumble, fumble recovery, and 2.5 tackles for loss last season.
The Iowa Wesleyan offense will bring back two of their top running backs and a senior offensive lineman. Akenyon Bagley rushed for 479 yards, averaging 8.1 yards per carry a season ago. Bagley finished the season with six rushing touchdowns. Jacquez Hall rushed for two touchdowns and tallied 385 yards, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Josh McPherson will help lead the offensive line in his senior season after earning USCAA All-Football First Team honors last year.
The Tigers will open the season at home on September 1 when they host Cornell College under the lights at 7 p.m.
UMAC PRESEASON FOOTBALL RANKINGS: 1. MacMurray; 2. St. Scholastica; 3. Northwestern; T4. Greenville; T4 Westminster; 6. Martin Luther; 7. Iowa Wesleyan; 8. Minnesota Morris; 9. Crown College.