FREELAND, Mich.--The nationally-ranked Adrian College Bulldogs are favored to claim the 2016 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association title, according to the MIAA preseason coaches' poll released by Commissioner Penny Allen-Cook on Monday.
Adrian, which is listed No. 25 in The Sporting News NCAA Division III preseason poll, received 12 points and one first-place vote to edge defending conference co-champions Albion and Olivet. Both the Britons and Comets earned 13 points, with the former getting three first-place votes and the latter one.
Fourth-place Trine, which is 25th in the nation by Lindy's Sports, had 17 points and the other two first-place votes by the MIAA coaches. Rounding out the conference preseason poll are Alma (27 points), Hope (30) and Kalamazoo (35).
Head coach Jim Deere '89 returns for his seventh season at the helm and his 25th year overall patrolling the Bulldogs sidelines. Deere is 43-19 since taking the reins in 2010 and has led AC to the fourth-best winning percentage (.714) for all NCAA schools, and the best record at 30-12 among Division III programs, based in Michigan over the previous four years. Deere has steered Adrian to conference championships in 2012 and 2014, as part of 11 in program history.
The Bulldogs return six defensive starters, nine on offense and two specialists among scores of lettermen from last year's squad that went 7-3 overall and 4-2 for a third-place tie in the MIAA. Adrian has two all-conference defensive stalwarts in junior defensive lineman Damon Fuller (Redford, Mich./Thurston) and sophomore outside linebacker Chris Adams (St. Petersburg, Fla./Gibbs). Senior quarterback Stephen Milarch (Fenton, Mich. /Hartland) is back calling the offensive signals for his second season as the starter.
Adrian is in the middle of preseason training camp in preparation for the Bulldogs' 112th season which opens on Friday, Sep. 2, at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore., at Hanson Stadium.
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