Mount Union picked to top OAC

CANTON – After 22 straight Ohio Athletic Conference titles, Mount Union’s football team is the obvious choice for the 2014 season.

The Purple Raiders top both PAC media and coaches preseason polls announced Wednesday at the OAC Football Media Day at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Mount Union garnered nine of 10 first place votes in the coaches poll and 30 of 36 first place votes in the media poll. The other first-place votes in both polls belong to second-ranked John Carroll.

“We appreciate the respect that coaches and the media in the OAC have for our program,” second-year head coach Vince Kehres said. “We also know that playing in this conference is a tremendous challenge week in and week out.”

The Purple Raiders went 14-1 last season and advanced to the NCAA Division III championship game for a ninth year in a row.

Mount Union returns 19 players that have some starting experience, including senior quarterback Kevin Burke, who won the Gagliardi Trophy as the nation’s top all-around player in Division III.

Burke threw for 3,830 yards and 44 touchdowns and ran for 1,025 yards and 14 touchdowns last season.

Mount Union has an 83-game regular-season win streak and has won 77 straight games at Mount Union Stadium.

The 2014 season begins Sept. 6 at Bethany (W.Va.) College, the first time the teams have met since 1965.

The football team starts practice on Aug. 14. Photo day/media day will be held at 10 a.m. Aug. 30 at Mount Union Stadium. A scrimmage at Washington & Jefferson (Pa.) College will be held at 6 p.m. Aug. 28.

OAC Preseason Coaches Poll

1. Mount Union (9)81

2. John Carroll (1)73

3. Heidelberg65

4. Ohio Northern52

5. Baldwin Wallace50

6. Otterbein44

7. Muskingum27

8. Capital24

9. Wilmington19

10. Marietta1

OAC Preseason Media Poll

1. Mount Union (30)336

2. John Carroll (6)304

3. Heidelberg266

4. Ohio Northern225

5. Baldwin Wallace208

6. Otterbein190

7. Capital111

8. Muskingum99

9. Marietta76

10. Wilmington55