KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Raven head football coach Larry Wilcox took part in the annual Heart of America Athletic Conference Media Day on Monday as part of the third-annual Heart Summit where coaches from accross the conference gathered to meet as a group and within their specific sports.
As part of Media Day, the 2017 Preseason Coaches' Poll was released with the Ravens selected third in the Heart North Division as the conference continues into its third year of divisional conference play.
"We graduated over 40 Seniors this past year year, so we'll have a lot of turnover with a lot of new faces, with a lot of new names," Coach Wilcox said. "There will be enough continuity with returning players that we're definitely optimistic going into the season. We anticipate being able to compete in a very tough conference and especially in the North division, which is critical to us."
Benedictine earned 43 points, two points behind William Penn University who was selected to finish second. Grand View University was selected as the preseason favorite to win the North Division as they earned a total of 50 points while earning five of the six first-place votes. William Penn earned the remaining first place vote.
Peru State College was selected fourth with 38 points, followed by Graceland University with 34 points and Culver-Stockton College with 30 points.
While the Ravens return 54 letterman from last year, they will be looking to replace 10 out of 22 starters from a 2016 campaign where they went 7-4 overall and 3-2 in the Heart North.
"I prefer not to use the term rebuild," Coach Wilcox said. "We have stability and a foundation within the program and great retention within our team. That helps us to bring the younger guys through the program who have a chance to learn from the older, more experienced players. There comes a time though, when they have to put their foot down on the game field and be able to make a difference."
Baker University was selected to repeat as Heart South champion after earning 50 points with five first-place votes. Missouri Valley College was selected second with 46 points and the remaining first-place vote. MNU was selected third with 42 points, followed by Evangel University with 37 points, Central Methodist University with 35 points and Avila University with 30 points.
The Preseason NAIA Top 25 Coaches' Poll will be announced on Aug. 7 with the season kicking off at home on O'Malley Field at 11 a.m. on Aug. 26 as the Ravens host Missouri Valley Conference in the Heart Game of the Week, which will be broadcast locally on KSMO and nationally on ESPN3.