HAAC coaches pick Baker to finish second
Although preseason football polls should be taken with a grain of salt, the just completed version from the Heart of America Athletic Conference coaches show a very tight race and Baker University in second.
There was strange voting throughout the poll. Benedictine wound up first with 65 points, but had only one first-place vote. Baker was second with 60 points and had two first-place votes. Lindenwood and MidAmerica Nazarene tied for third with 59 points. Evangel was fourth with 58 points, but had the most first-place votes with three. Missouri Valley, last year's HAAC champ, was sixth with 52.
"Obviously, it's a close one," said John Frangoulis, Baker head coach. "The voting was kind of strange. How does Missouri Valley, who won the league last year, finish sixth? I picked them second."
Besides the two first-place votes, Baker had two second-place votes, two for fourth, two for fifth and one for sixth. That was typical of the voting. Benedictine was picked as champ, mostly because of four second-place votes. The Ravens also had two third-place votes and two for fifth.
Even though the voting was odd, Frangoulis looked on the bright side.
"On the positive side, I think it shows some respect for what we've done here over the last four years," he said. "This is the highest we've been picked in the five years I've been here.
"But, you've got to go out and earn it," said Frangoulis. "Any of five teams can win the conference."
Last year, Missouri Valley won the title with an 8-1 league record. Evangel was second at 7-2 and Baker was third at 6-3. MidAmerica was also 6-3, William Jewell and Lindenwood were both 5-4, Benedictine was 4-5, Graceland 3-6, Culver-Stockton 1-8 and Central Methodist 0-9.
Frangoulis expects it will be much the same this year.
"We expect the same type of season as we had last year every game will be close," he said. "It will be exciting to watch and nerve racking on the sidelines.
"Obviously, it's a balanced league," said Frangoulis. "Injuries will play a factor and so will who comes back to play at every program."
Baker opens its season Sept. 9 at Southwestern. First home game is Sept. 16 against Lindenwood, which is Family Day.