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Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University football team is projected to be one of the favorites in this year's Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) race as the Bulldogs were tabbed second in the 2014 GLIAC Football North Division Preseason Poll announced Tuesday.
The announcement was made in conjunction with the launch of the GLIAC Media Day Central website, which includes video interviews, a preseason prognosis, infographics and more in addition to the complete North and South Division preseason polls conducted by the league's member head coaches.
The North Division is expected to be a tight race in 2014, with seven points or less standing between the top-five teams in the preseason poll. Grand Valley State, national semifinalists from a year ago, led the way with 49 points and seven first-place votes in this year's preseason poll. Ferris State picked up 42 points to finish second while Saginaw Valley State claimed the last first-place vote, but only tallied 35 points to finish third. Michigan Tech (30 points) and Hillsdale (26) finished fourth and fifth, respectively, to round out the top-five. Wayne State was not too far behind the Chargers, earning 21 points to finish sixth in the voting. Northern Michigan (12) and Northwood (9) completed the ballot in the North.
On the heels of a 9-0 regular season a year ago, Ohio Dominican was picked to win the South Division, garnering six first-place votes and 36 points. Not too far behind was Findlay, who claimed the last first-place vote and 30 points. With 27 points, Ashland was picked to finish third, followed by Lake Erie with 16 points. Rounding out the top-five was Walsh with 16 points, while Tiffin and Malone closed out the preseason ballot with 14 and eight points, respectively.
The 2014 Division II football season opens for four GLIAC members on Thursday, Sept. 4, with the rest of the league starting play two days later on Saturday, Sept. 6.
The Bulldogs, who open fall camp this week, are expected to return nearly 50 letterwinners and at least 14 starters from a year ago when they finished with a 8-3 overall record and narrowly missed receiving the school's first playoff bid in 17 years under head coach Tony Annese.
Among the returnees for the Bulldogs this campaign are seven preseason NCAA Division II All-Americans, including four from the defensive unit in junior end Justin Zimmer (Greenville), senior defensive tackle Corey Stone (Sterling Heights/Stevenson), senior linebacker Darnell Morris (Detroit/Inkster) and senior defensive back A.J. McEwen (East Grand Rapids).
The offensive unit is represented by Preseason All-America quarterback and returning Harlon Hill Trophy candidate Jason Vander Laan (Frankfort, Ill./Chicago Christian) along with junior lineman Adam Bennett (Romeo) and senior receiver Jake Lampman (East Lansing/Haslett).
Ferris State wrapped up a successful 2013 campaign and the second season under Annese's direction last fall with a 8-3 overall record along with a second-place 8-2 finish in the GLIAC North Division standings.
The Bulldogs' eight-win campaign last fall was the school's first since 2006 and only the second in the program's last 16 seasons. Additionally, Ferris State's eight league wins in 2013 were also its most since 1996. FSU's eight league wins in 2013 were also its most since 1996 and the Bulldogs beat rival Grand Valley State for the second consecutive year to hold onto possession of the Anchor-Bone Trophy.
FSU also inked a highly-regarded 35-member recruiting class on National Signing Day in February. The talented class of 33 prepsters and two Division I transfers came on the heels of a stellar class a year ago that was labeled as the best in the nation.
The Bulldogs will begin their 106th season of varsity competition this coming fall with their sights set on competing for a potential GLIAC Championship and a NCAA Division II Playoff berth after posting only the program's second eight-win season in the last 16 years during the 2013 campaign. FSU opens the 2014 campaign with a non-league contest at McKendree (Ill.) on Thursday, Sept. 4, before visiting Northwood for their GLIAC opener on Sept. 13 in Midland.
FSU's 2014 home opener at Top Taggart Field will be on Sept. 20 as the Bulldogs entertain archrival Grand Valley State in the Anchor-Bone Classic with kickoff set for 7 p.m. (ET).
Both season and individual game tickets for all 2014 home contests are now on sale and can be purchased thru the FSU Athletics Ticket Office by calling (231) 591-2888 or online at StarTickets.com. For more information, please visit FerrisStateBulldogs.com.
GLIAC MEDIA DAY CENTRAL: Ferris State Projected Near Top In 2014 GLIAC Football Race
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