Football ranked 15th in preseason poll

Football ranked 15th in preseason poll

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville football team earned a preseason ranking of 15th nationally in the d3football.com poll released this week.

The Pioneers are coming off an 8-3 season and the second trip to the NCAA III playoffs in school history. St. John's (Minnesota) nipped the visiting Pioneers 32-31 on the game's final play in the national playoffs.  

"It's a great compliment to our team and program, but preseason rankings are based on past successes," Coach Mike Emendorfer said. "It's now up to the 2017 team to go out and be one of the best in the country."

The Pioneers return 10 starters on defense, four on offense and two specialists. Seven returning players earned all-Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference honors in 2016, including first-team linebacker Marty McGrail, second-team linebacker Chandler Crary and second-team running back Sean Studer. Offensive lineman Ryan Gaul, defensive linemen Nick Kilianek and Colin Griffin, and punter Connor Finley earned all-honorable mention honors.

"We have new faces on the coaching staff, and we're excited about them," Emendorfer said. "The defense returns some very good players. Offensively, we have starters to replace, but we have plenty of players with game experience coming back."

Emendorfer welcomes his 19th team for its first practice on Saturday, Aug. 12. This year's squad is the fourth in five years to be voted in the top 15 in the preseason poll.

"Out of the 244 teams that play NCAA Division III football, we've been consistently ranked among the top teams," Emendorfer said. "That's a tribute to this program."

The full 2017 top 25, which features three WIAC schools, can be found at http://d3football.com/top25/2017/preseason.

By Paul Erickson, Director, UW-Platteville Communications, 608.342.1194, pr@uwplatt.edu