Mavs tabbed to finish fourth in RMAC preseason FB poll

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COLORADO SPRINGS — Not much is expected to change this football season. At least that’s what the RMAC coaches think.

The top six teams are picked to finish 2009 where they finished in 2008, according to the preseason poll released Friday. The poll is voted on by the coaches.

Mesa State College is picked to finish fourth. The Mavericks were 6-3 in the RMAC (6-5 overall) in 2008.

Chadron State (Neb.) College is expected to win its fourth consecutive RMAC title. The Eagles received six of the 10 first-place votes.

Colorado School of Mines is picked second with three first-place votes and Nebraska-Kearney is predicted to finish third with one first-place vote.

“The poll is what I expected,” Mesa State coach Joe Ramunno said. “Chadron deserves where they’ve been. Mines has a good crew returning and Kearney is awfully good. I feel we can compete too, but you’ve got to stay healthy and get a couple breaks.”

For the Mavs to compete for their first RMAC title since 2003, they will need their young offense with a redshirt freshman and a new starting tailback to pick up the offense quickly.

“We’ll be young and inexperienced (at quarterback), but I look at (Baltimore Ravens quarterback) Joe Flacco,” Ramunno said. “He’s a great player. We’ve got a couple great players (Michael Mankoff and Robert Felberg), but we’ve got to make smart decisions. ”

Chadron State will have to rely on some young players to win the RMAC title, as well. The Eagles lost eight starters on defense and the RMAC offensive player of the year in quarterback Joe McLain.

“We lost a ton of good players,” Chadron State coach Bill O’Boyle said. “The key will be getting some game experience with our defensive kids. Offensively I think we’ll be OK.”

Colorado School of Mines has 10 returning starters on offense and nine on defense after an 8-4 season that ended with a loss to Western Washington in the Dixie Rotary Bowl.

“You’ve got to beat Chadron to win the championship,” Mines coach Bob Stitt said. “That’s been the case since I’ve been in it. We’ve got to find a way to beat Mesa in Grand Junction.

We’ve never done that since I’ve been here.”

Mesa State hosts Mines on Oct. 3.

Adams State was voted to finish fifth, followed by CSU-Pueblo, Western New Mexico, Western State, New Mexico Highlands and Fort Lewis.

Although the coaches picked the teams to finish in the same order as they finished last year, there is often one team that exceeds expectations.

That team is Western New Mexico, Fort Lewis coach Ed Rifilato said.

“If Western New Mexico gets it together, there will be nobody be able to beat them,” Rifilato said. “With the players they have coming in, they could do it.”


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