Coming off its best season since 2003, the Lycoming College football team is predicted to be in a three-way fight for its 14th Middle Atlantic Conference title, according to the poll by the league's coaches released on Wednesday with Lycoming sitting third in the poll, just seven points behind predicted favorite Delaware Valley.
The Warriors, who finished in a tie for second in the MAC with a 6-2 league mark and an 8-2 overall record in 2011, finished with 70 points and two first-place votes in the poll, while Widener, ranked 25th in the preseason D3football.com poll and sixth in the Lindy's College Football preseason rankings, edged out the Warriors in the preseason poll by a point, also earning two first-place votes. Four-time defending MAC champion Delaware Valley, ranked ninth by D3Football.com and fifth by Lindy's, was just six votes ahead of Widener at 77 points, thanks to six first-place votes.
Behind the Warriors, Albright and Lebanon Valley tied for fourth with 50 points followed by Wilkes, which was sixth with 47. Stevenson, King's, FDU-Florham and Misericordia round out the poll.
The Warriors return seven all-conference players from the 2011 squad, which finished in the top 10 in the NCAA Division III in six statistical categories. The defense returns eight starters from a squad that was second nationally in pass efficiency defense (77.59) and third in total defense (214.40). Offensively, the Warriors averaged more than 30 points a game for the first time since 2003 and returns both an all-conference running back in senior Parker Showers and its starting quarterback, senior Zach Klinger, who tossed just three interceptions in 2011, a record-low for a Warrior quarterback.
The Warriors open the 2012 campaign on Saturday, Sept. 1, by hosting The College at Brockport at 1 p.m. at David Person Field. On Sept. 8, the Warriors open the MAC slate with a bang, facing Delaware Valley in a crucial showdown in Doylestown, Pa., at 1 p.m.