Saint Francis still No. 1 in NAIA poll Cougars are in the midst of building toward 2017.

The defending NAIA football champion University of Saint Francis Cougars start the spring where they finished the fall – ranked No. 1 in the coaches Top 25.

Saint Francis, which beat Baker (Kan.) for its first national title in December, is ranked No. 1 for the fifth time in school history. Saint Francis received all 14 first-place votes.

The Cougars return six starters on offense and six on defense and are in the midst of spring football practice.

Baker is ranked second, Reinhardt (Ga.) third, Eastern Oregon fourth and Marian fifth in the spring poll.

Among the Saint Francis returning players are quarterback Nick Ferrer, running back Justin Green, defensive tackle Eric Hemmelgarn and linebackers Spencer Cowherd, Piercen Harnish and Eric Dunten. Also back are offensive lineman Alex Woods and defensive backs Lee Stewart III and Wilmer Cole.

Saint Francis’ annual spring game will take place April 22 at Bishop D’Arcy Stadium.