CANTON, Ohio – The Wilmington College football team was picked to finish eighth in annual Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) Preseason Coaches at the OAC Football Media held at the Pro Football Hall of Fame this week.
The Fightin' Quakers earned 22 points finishing ahead of Capital University and Muskingum University. Defending NCAA Division III champion the University of Mount Union was picked to repeat as conference champion with 81 points and nine first-place votes. The complete poll is listed below.
|1.||Mount Union||81 (9)|
|2.||John Carroll||73 (1)|
Wilmington was picked 10th in last year's poll.
"It's encouraging to see people outside of our program noticing some of the improvements our student-athletes have made," Head Football Coach Bryan Moore said. "Last year's senior class played a huge part in moving us in the right direction. I don't think, however, that any of my coaches or players are going around boasting about being picked No. 8."
Second-year head coach Bryan Moore as well as student-athletes Kyle Ackley and Gino Hinton represented Wilmington at the event, which was attended by all 10 league institutions. Ackley, a senior defensive lineman from East Liberty, Ohio, appeared in all 10 games in 2017 making 25 tackles including 2.5 for loss. He also tallied 1.5 sacks. Hinton, a senior running back from Maple Heights, Ohio, averaged 40.8 yards per game in 2017 and finished the season tied for second in rushing yards. He also hauled in nine receptions.
Moore and the two then-juniors led the Quakers to a 37-30 overtime victory against Capital last fall, snapping a 40-game OAC losing streak. Wilmington will look to build on last season's success in 2018.
"We improved on our competitiveness last year, but we need to work on our consistency this year," said Moore. "Our upperclassmen leadership will make our break our season. They will need to provide 'tuff' leadership right from the start."
Wilmington lost 14 seniors to graduation last year including half of its starters on both offense and defense. Seventy-six new Fightin' Quakers will begin their freshman seasons when camp begins in August.
"There is some excitement in our program right now," said Moore. "We ended a few dubious streaks last year, placed six seniors on the All-OAC teams, hosted a prospect camp that drew 400 campers, brought in a large freshman class, drastically grew our roster size and added three additional junior varsity games. We have to keep moving forward, never backwards. Last year, the Seniors set the standard pretty high and we have to raise that standard even higher with this group. It will be 'tuff', it won't be easy but we are not afraid of it."
Wilmington opens its 2018 season at Earlham College in the Quaker Bowl Rivalry game, which Wilmington won last season. After a bye week and the OAC opener at Ohio Northern University, Wilmington hosts Muskingum University and Heidelberg University in consecutive weekends to end September.
The Quakers open October at Mount Union and at Marietta College before returning home to host Baldwin Wallace University and John Carroll University. An away contest at Capital on Nov. 3 is the final road contest of the regular season before Wilmington hosts Otterbein University in the regular season finale on Nov. 10.