Central jumps to No. 17 in season-ending football poll

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   PELLA—After a two-game NCAA Division III playoff run, Central College climbed a season-high 17th in the final 2019 American Football Coaches Association Division III Coaches’ Poll.

            Champion North Central College (Ill.) closes at No. 1, up from No. 5, after toppling the then-No. 10 University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl Friday, 41-14.

            Central, 10-2, was unranked most of the year but moved up to No. 23 entering the playoffs and jumped six spots in the final rankings. It’s Central’s highest season-ending ranking since finishing the 2007 campaign at No. 6.

            Wheaton College (Ill.), which ended Central’s season in the second round Nov. 30, closed at No. 6 with a 12-1 rank. Central’s first-round foe, the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh (8-3), moved up two spots to No. 21 after suffering a 38-37 overtime loss to the Dutch at Pella Nov. 23. American Rivers rival Wartburg College (10-2) improved four positions to No. 13.

            Central won a share of a record 31st conference championship and made its 21st NCAA playoff appearance. Coach Jeff McMartin, in his 16th season as head coach at his alma mater, saw his career record climb to 126-42 (.750). The Dutch are slated to return 15 starters—seven on offense and eight on defense—for next season.

2019 American Football Coaches Association Division III Coaches’ Final Poll – December 23, 2019

Rank  School (1st votes)                 Rec.     Pts.    Prev.      Post-season                                                                                                           

     1.    North Central (Ill.) (53)            14-1   1325           5      D. No. 10 Wisconsin-Whitewater, 41-14

     2.    Wisconsin-Whitewater            13-2   1268         10      Lost to No. 5 North Central (Ill.), 41-14

     3.    St. John’s (Minn.)                    12-2   1165           8      Lost to No. 10 Wisconsin-Whitewater, 35-32

     4.    Mary Hardin-Baylor (Tex.)     12-1   1079           1      Lost to No. 10 Wisconsin-Whitewater, 26-7

     5.    Muhlenberg (Pa.)                    13-1   1059           4      Lost to No. 5 North Central (Ill.), 45-14

     6.    Wheaton (Ill.)                            12-1   1048           3      Lost to No. 8 St. John’s (Minn.), 34-33

     7.    Mount Union (Ohio)                11-1   1035           2      Lost to No. 5 North Central (Ill.), 59-52

     8.    Delaware Valley (Pa.)             11-2      910           9      Lost to No. 5 North Central (Ill.), 31-14

     9.    Salisbury (Md.)                        11-1      900           6      Lost to No. 4 Muhlenberg (Pa.), 24-8

  10.    John Carroll (Ohio)                    9-1      739           7      DNQ Playoffs                                                                                                           

  11.    Chapman (Calif.)                     10-1      680         13      Lost to No. 8 St. John’s (Minn.), 55-26

  12.    Wesley (Del.)                           10-2      653         11      Lost to No. 9 Delaware Valley (Pa.), 45-10

  13.    Wartburg                                   10-2      622         17      Lost to No. 10 Wisconsin-Whitewater, 41-28

  14.    Hardin-Simmons (Tex.)            8-2      591         12      DNQ Playoffs

  15.    Union (N.Y.)                             11-1      583         14      Lost to No. 6 Salisbury (Md.), 62-41

  16.    Linfield (Ore.)                             8-2      467         15      Lost to No. 13 Chapman (Calif.), 68-65 3OT

  17.    Central                                     10-2      449         23      Lost to No. 3 Wheaton (Ill.), 49-13

  18.    Susquehanna (Pa.)                 10-1      421         16      D. Wilkes (Pa.), 88-24

  19.    St. Thomas (Minn.)                    8-2      391         18      DNQ Playoffs

  20.    Bridgewater (Va.)                    10-1      304         20      Lost to No. 9 Delaware Valley (Pa.), 30-22

  21.    Wisconsin-Oshkosh                  8-3      291         21      Lost to No. 23 Central (Iowa), 38-37 OT

  22.    Redlands (Calif.)                        9-2      249         22      Lost to No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor (Tex.), 43-14

  23.    Berry (Ga.)                                  9-2      227         19      Lost to Huntingdon (Ala.), 27-24

  24.    Bethel (Minn.)                             8-2      178         24      DNQ Playoffs                                                                                                           

  25.    Brockport (N.Y.)                         9-3      114        NR      Lost to No. 4 Muhlenberg (Pa.), 42-0

Dropped out: Case Western Reserve (Ohio) (25)

Others receiving votes: Case Western Reserve (Ohio), 100; Aurora (Ill.), 83; Huntingdon (Ala.), 74; Wisconsin-La Crosse, 39; Texas Lutheran, 28; Hope (Mich.), 26; Wisconsin-Platteville, 26; Ithaca (N.Y.), 15; Middlebury (Vt.), 15; Western New England (Mass.), 12; Trinity (Tex.), 11; Cortland (N.Y.), 8; Hanover (Ind.), 8; Martin Luther (Minn.), 7; Hobart (N.Y.), 5; Randolph-Macon (Va.), 4; Framingham St. (Mass.), 3; Monmouth (Ill.), 3; Wabash (Ind.), 3; Wesleyan (Conn.), 3; Whitworth (Wash.), 3; WPI (Mass.), 1.