Thursday, June 2, 2016

100 Days...

We're just 100 days away from Linfield kicking it off against Chapman.  It will be here before you know it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Linfield is ranked #1 by SportingNews and #6 by Lindy’s Sports in 2016 preseason Top 25.

What's that?  College Football? YES!!!!!!!!!!!
One of the first signs of college football being right around the corner is annual May release of College Football preview magazines.  Who knows if these will even be around a few years with the way people now choose to consume information, but for me, it’s still a blast to pick up these publications to get a taste of the upcoming college football season and get a look at the way too early season rankings and awards.

Speaking of rankings, SportingNews 2016 preseason Top 25 has Linfield ranked in the top slot for the upcoming season followed by: 2) Mount Union, 3) UWW, 4) UMHB, 5) UST, 6) Wesley, 7) Oshkosh, 8) Wheaton, 9) SJU, and 10) Ohio Northern.  The only other NWC team in the top 25 is Whitworth at a very respectable 15.

The Lindy’s Sports Preseason Top 25 is interesting as they have slotted Linfield at 6th this preseason. Their top 10 goes: 1) Mount Union, 2) UWW, 3) UST, 4) Wesley, 5) UMHB, 6) Linfield, 7), Oshkosh, 8) Wabash, 9) Washington & Lee, 10) Ohio Northern.  Whitworth is unranked in Lindy’s poll.

Quite a range for the ‘Cats between the two polls but it speaks to the top end of talent in Division 3. There is no question that Mount Union continues to be the top dog in Division 3 with Whitewater being in lockstep with the Purple Raiders. After that, it’s been a few teams in that top 3 mix at the end of the season between Linfield, UMHB, North Central, St. Thomas, and Wesley.  What I think most people that follow Division III for any amount of time would say a reasonable 2016 top 5/6 would go is: 1. Mount Union, 2. UWW, 3-6 just slot in Linfield/UMHB/UST/Wesley and there you go.  All four of those teams (Linfield included) have the talent and ability coming into 2016 to knock off Mount Union or UWW but those two programs reserve that right each year until proven otherwise. I hate writing that but it’s the truth until someone other than them is holding up the Bronze and Gold at Salem Stadium in December.

Do these preseason polls even matter? Heck no. These polls are designed to sell magazines, generate conversation, and debate.  However, it's a whale of a reflection with Linfield being ranked 1st by the SportingNews and 6th by Lindy’s.  After three season of going 6-3 by the ‘Cats (2006-08), Coach Smith and his staff has lifted this program back to the elite of Division III for the past seven seasons and that’s remarkable. Linfield has been to the National Semifinals three times in those seven seasons but have come up short and I know that burns in the pit of stomach of the ‘Cats. The path back to that point for Linfield is going to be anything but easy.  Linfield will start the year with a well-coached and solid Chapman team at home before taking on what I think is easily the stiffest regular season game that Linfield has played in a long time with a rematch against Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Tx. I’m sure the Cru’ has that date in bold, circled, and underlined as it will have huge implications for both Linfield and UMHB’s quest to reach Salem, Va.  After that, Linfield will have a challenging conference schedule including a monster road game at Whitworth.
Three Linfield Wildcats tapped as preseason All-Americans

Three of your Wildcats have been chosen as preseason All-Americans by SportingNews or Lindy’s Sports.

-    Quarterback Sam Riddle (Sr.) was selected as an All-American by both SportingNews and Lindy’s Sports. Along with that, Riddle was also picked by Lindy’s as their preseason Offensive Player of the Year.  Sam will look to improve upon his 2015 season where he threw for 31 touchdowns, while completing 60.6% of his passes, and rushed for 5 TDs on the ground.

-    Return man Kennedy Johnson (Sr.) was picked by Lindy’s Sports as a first team All-American return heading into 2016.  Kennedy was electric as a returner last season in averaging 15.2 yards per punt return, taking 3 back for Touchdown, including a 77-yard strike. Along with that, Kennedy should be one of the top corners in the West Region this season as well.

- Linebacker Jake Reimer (Jr.) was named a 2nd team All-American by Lindy’s.  Reimer was a playmaker in his first year as a starter in 2015. Jake was Linfield’s leading tackler with 65 stops (48 solo), 10.5 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 4 pass break-ups, and was robbed of an epic fumble return for touchdown against Redlands.

It’s really great to see these well deserving ‘Cats get singled out but the reason why these guys get selected is due to the success of the team. All three of these guys would tell you that right off the bat, that their recognition is a reflection of the team and the performance of the players around them.