National runner-up Morningside (Iowa) begins the 2013 season as the No. 1 ranked team in the 2013 NAIA Football Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll. Morningside, who tallied 280 points despite receiving just four first-place votes, finished the 2012 season with a program-best 13-1 record.
The Mustangs, led by 2012 AFCA Coach of the Year, Steve Ryan, are predicted to win their third-straight Great Plains Athletic Conference title. Wide receivers Kyle Schuck and Travis Hantleman, and the backfield tandem of Josh Gaedke and Joel McCabe, headline a Morningside offense that returns nine starters from a year ago. Also this week former Sioux City Heelan standout Brandon Wegher joined the team. Wegher played his freshman year at Iowa where he rushed for 641 yards and eight touchdowns.
Defending national champion Marian (Ind.), who handed Morningside its only loss in the 57th annual Russell Athletic-NAIA Football National Championship, collected eight first-place votes and 267 points to earn a share of the No. 2 position. National semifinalist Missouri Valley shares the No. 2 ranking with Marian after receiving the remaining first-place vote and 267 points. Marian has now been ranked among the top five teams for 26-straight polls, dating back to Poll 1 of the 2011 season.
National semifinalist Saint Xavier (Ill.) and St. Francis (Ind.) round out the top 5 with 260 and 239 points, respectively.