The Wildcats finished fourth a year ago in the conference with a 6-3 HAAC record and 7-3 overall mark and will look to move up the standings in 2012 and qualify for its first postseason appearance since 2008.
“Overall we feel great about this season and we’re excited that it’s finally football week and we’re able to prepare our players for the upcoming season,” said Baker head football coach Mike Grossner. “I feel this is one of the best conferences in the country and it will be a battle each week between the 10 teams.”
Coach Grossner spoke to the media along with the other nine head coaches in the Hall of Fame suite in left field of Kauffman stadium.
Defending conference co-champion MidAmerica Nazarene received seven of ten first-place votes to sit atop the poll.
In the NAIA Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll, the Pioneers came in No. 5 after going 10-3 in 2011 and advanced to the NAIA Football Championship Series quarterfinals, losing to eventual national champion St. Xavier, 29-14.
Missouri Valley received the other three first-place votes on Tuesday and took second in the poll with 86 total points. The Vikings came in No. 9 in the NAIA Preseason Coaches’ Poll after going 9-2 in 2011 and lost to St. Francis, 28-14, in the Opening Round of the NAIA Football Championship Series.
Baker just edged out Benedictine for the third spot with its 80 points, while the Ravens garnered 78 points.
The Wildcats knocked off BC, 10-7, last season on Nov. 5 at Emil S. Liston Stadium in Baldwin City, Kan. Baker earned the No. 18 spot in this week’s NAIA Coaches’ Poll.
Baker will travel to Benedictine this season to take on the Ravens on Nov. 3. BC went 9-3 last season and picked up a big win over Missouri Valley, 25-19, at home on Oct. 15. The Ravens eventually lost to Georgetown, 21-17, in the Opening Round of the NAIA Playoffs. BC is ranked No. 13 in the current NAIA Coaches’ Poll.
The No. 5 spot goes to Evangel, who went 3-6 in the HAAC last season, finishing 3-7 overall.
Under first-year head coach Jody Ford, Central Methodist received 44 points in the poll and is ranked No. 6. The Eagles went 5-5 last season.
The No. 7 spot goes to Avila University, the Eagles went 4-5 in 2011 and 4-6 overall, and is led by head coach Justin Berna.
The No. 8 ranked team in the Poll is Peru State, led by the other first-year head coach in the conference, Steve Schneider.
In the No. 9 spot is Culver-Stockton, the Wildcats went 1-10 last season and picked up its lone win in 2011 against Graceland in its season opener, 35-10.
The final spot in the poll goes to Graceland. The Yellowjackets went 1-9 last season and its win came at home against Peru State, 45-13.