Saint Francis football starts NAIA season where it ended with No. 1 ranking

Saint Francis cornerback Willy Cole, right, works on a punt block timing drill during practice Monday at Bishop D'Arcy Stadium. (Photo by Reggie Hayes of news-sentinel.com)

The University of Saint Francis football team starts the 2018 season where it ended the 2017 season: As the No. 1 ranked team in the NAIA.

After winning back-to-back national titles, the Cougars were the unanimous choice for No. 1 in the NAIA preseason poll released Monday.

Saint Francis, which finished 14-0 last season and has a 23-game winning streak, will open the season with a home game against Robert Morris at 6 p.m. Aug. 25. It is the earliest opening game in the program’s history.

“We open up in 19 days,” coach Kevin Donley said Monday. “That’s called urgency.”

The team Saint Francis beat to win the NAIA title last season, Reinhardt, is ranked No. 2. Morningside is ranked third.

Saint Francis has been ranked No. 1 in 15 consecutive polls.

The team opened official fall practice Monday with a pair of workouts and team meetings.

“I love it when the kids are here and we get back out and start teaching football and trying to develop them to be the best they can be as a player, and off the field as well,” Donley said.

NAIA Top 25

School (1st-place votes) Total points

1. Saint Francis (16) 366

2. Reinhardt 349

3. Morningside 340

4. Southern Oregon 324

5. Lindsey Wilson 310

6. Saint Xavier 296

7. Georgetown 268

7. Northwestern 268

9. Baker 259

10. Grand View 231

11. Southeastern 227

12. Benedictine 197

13. Dickinson State 178

14. Langston 177

15. Marian 167

16. Concordia 163

17. Sterling 159

18. Tabor 95

19. Campbellsville 86

20. Rocky Mountain 75

21. Kansas Wesleyan 67

22. SAGU 51

22. Arizona Christian 51

24. Faulkner 46

25. Dakota State 44

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