FREELAND, MICH. -- The Trine University football team was picked to finish in a tie for second in the 2019 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Preseason Coaches Poll.
Trine tied with Albion (Mich.) College with 14 points and a pair of first place votes for second in this year's poll. Hope (Mich.) College was picked as the favorite with 11 points and four first-place votes.
The Thunder posted their second straight undefeated regular season (10-0) in 2018 and back-to-back conference championships. Overall, Trine ended with a 10-1 mark for the sixth season in program history that the Thunder have won 10 or more games. The perfect 10-0 record during the regular season was the fourth time in program history that Trine posted an undefeated regular season (2018, 2017, 2010, 2008) and the MIAA Championship was the program's fifth overall since joining the conference (2008, 2009, 2010, 2017, 2018). The Thunder also made their fifth appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament last year.
Trine will return one All-MIAA player on offense in senior offensive lineman, Noah Routson (Findlay, Ohio/Findlay) and two all-conference players on defense in seniors Simeon Washington (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic) and Mason McFarland (Berrien Springs, Mich./Berrien Springs). The Thunder also return one player who earned all-conference honors on special teams in senior kicker Lucas Garza (Syracuse, Ind./Wawasee).
The Trine offense ranked in the top-50 nationally in seven statistical categories in 2018, including ranking in the top-five in rushing offense (4th - 304.8 yards per game) and overall passing efficiency (2nd - 182.68). The Thunder also posted impressive offensive marks in passing yards per completion (8th - 16.38), fourth-down conversion percentage (17th - 64.7 percent), pass completion percentage (29th - 63.0 percent), fewest passes intercepted (34th - seven) and total offense (42nd - 434.4 yards per game). Trine's defense also had a strong season and ranked as one of the top squads in the nation in statistical categories that included being ranked 24th in touchdowns scored by the defense with three, 11th in fewest passing yards allowed per game (147.5) and 34th in opponent passing efficiency (103.61).
Garza became the program's all-time leader in PAT kicks made (163) and attempts (176) in only his third season last year. He also connected on a string of 40-straight PATs against MIAA opponents, setting a conference record where he surpassed former Trine place kicker Jeremy Howard '10 who made 31 straight attempts in 2010. Garza currently sits in sixth place on the all-time scoring list with 193 points (163 PAT, 10 FG).
Trine will begin the 2019 season with its traditional matchup against Manchester University in the season opener on Thursday, Sept. 5 in North Manchester, Ind. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
2019 MIAA Preseason Coaches Poll
|Place||School (First-Place Votes)||Points|