FOREST, VA-Hampden-Sydney College received four first place votes on the way to 46 total points to lead the 2012 ODAC Football Preseason Poll. The top of the rankings are tightly packed, with Randolph-Macon College clipping at Tigers' heels with 44 tallies including three top nods. Washington and Lee University rounds out the top three with 37 points and the remaining first place selection from the annual coaches' survey.
The path to the 2012 ODAC championship will be tougher for all teams in the league as Shenandoah University opens conference play, increasing the league's football membership to eight schools. SU, previously a member of the USA South for the majority of its sports, became the ODAC's 14th full-time member institution in July, completing a process that will see the Hornets compete in each of their 20 sports under the ODAC flag.
Hampden-Sydney (8-3 overall, 5-1 in the ODAC in 2011) begins its third title defense in the last five years as it tries to become the first team to win back-to-back titles since Bridgewater College won five straight crowns from 2001-05.
Reigning ODAC Coach of the Year Marty Favret returns to the helm for his 13th season and will see fresh faces in his high octane offense with the loss of standouts like All-Americans Kyle Vance and Ben Rogers and All-ODAC performers Travis Lane, Sean Cavanagh, and Kirk Rohle.
Helping lead the offensive charge this year will be offensive linemen and captains Will Ferrell (Blythewood, SC/Blythewood) and Tyler White (Mechanicsville, VA/Atlee). Zack Lapinski (Richmond, VA/Mills Godwin) and Andrew Hutchcroft (Richmond, VA/Deep Run) also return to their starting posts on the offensive line.
Senior running back Evan King (Lewisburg, WV/Episcopal) will likely be the feature back, a position he took over in 2010 when Rohle went down with injury. That season as a sophomore, King finished third in the ODAC in scoring with 14 touchdowns while his 13 rushing touchdowns were tied for the top mark.
Two players that will not only help the running game with blocking, but also provide quality receiving targets are tight ends Mike Goad (Chesterfield, VA/Matoaca) and Eric Gorsline (Virginia Beach, VA/Norfolk Academy). Both were strong contributors in 2011 combining for 42 receptions, 571 yards and five touchdowns.
Defensively, the Tigers bring back eight starters from a season ago including captains Kenny Fryman (Mechanicsville, VA/Hanover) and Steven Fogleman (Mechanicsville, VA/Hanover) and 2011 All-American cornerback Zach Morgan (Virginia Beach, VA/Ocean Lakes). Fryman led the team last season with 102 tackles to go with 15 tackles-for-loss and 2.5 sacks. Fogleman, who missed much of 2011 due to injury, was second on the 2010 roster in tackles with 92 as a sophomore. Morgan enters 2012 as a Preseason All-American after leading the league in interceptions (7) while making 67 tackles.
The defense will also see experienced youth step up in sophomores Shreve Rohle (Mechanicsville, VA/Hanover) (33 tackles, 2.5 TFL) and John Moore (Powhatan, VA/Blessed Sacrament-Huguenot) (53 tackles, 4.5 TFL).
The Tigers will look to defend their crown with their first ODAC match up on September 29 at Catholic University. Their first game will be in Danville as they face to Cougars of Averett University on September 1.
Below is the full 2012 ODAC Football Preseason Poll
2012 ODAC FOOTBALL PRESEASON POLL
(#) Denotes first place votes
|1. Hampden-Sydney (4)||46 pts.|
|2. Randolph-Macon (3)||44 pts.|
|3. Washington and Lee (1)||37 pts.|
|4. Bridgewater||32 pts.|
|5. Emory & Henry||23 pts.|
|6. Catholic||20 pts.|
|7. Guilford||11 pts.|
|7. Shenandoah||11 pts.|