Lenoir-Rhyne Preseason #1 in South Atlantic Conference
Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Football Team is picked as the favorite to win the South Atlantic Conference Championship in 2012. The Bears were voted first in the league's preseason coaches’ poll, while Mars Hill has been picked by the league’s coaches to finish second. The preseason predictions were announced Monday by the SAC office. Lenoir-Rhyne, which finished 7-3 overall last fall including a 6-1 mark in conference play, received four of the eight first-place votes and 46 points overall. Mars Hill earned 35 points and two first-place votes in the poll. The Lions are coming off the best season in program history, in which they won eight games and earned their first-ever bid to the NCAA Division II Football Championship.
Last year’s conference title was the Bears' first league championship since 1994. Mars Hill also earned a share of the SAC football title last season. Lenoir-Rhyne returns several key players this fall on a defense that led the conference by allowing just 22.6 points and 101.4 rushing yards per game last season including senior linebacker Demetrius Green, senior defensive lineman Brandon Martin and junior defensive back Michael Green. Demetrius Green is the reigning South Atlantic Conference Defensive Player Of The Year while all three players earned preseason NCAA Division II All-American accolades.
The Bears return a total of 18 starters including seven on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Lenoir-Rhyne opens the 2012 season on Saturday, September 1, at 7:00 p.m., against Concord on the road in Athens, W.Va. L-R will then face rival Davidson in its home opener on Saturday, September 8, at 7:00 p.m., at Moretz Stadium. MHC will face a tall task in replacing the record-setting rushing production of 2011 Harlon Hill Trophy winner. Jonas Randolph. However, the Lions do return four members of last season’s All-SAC Team, including first-team selections Dimitri Holmes, Nick Allision and Marvin James. The Lions return 15 starters overall, including nine on defense. Mars Hill opens the season on Aug. 30 at Western Carolina. Conference play begins on Sept. 15 when the Lions host Brevard in Mars Hill's home opener.