FOREST, Va. – Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) football coaches picked Guilford College sixth in their annual preseason poll Monday. The Quakers received 19 points in the eight-team ratings.
Washington and Lee University and Randolph-Macon College, the two most recent NCAA Tournament teams from the ODAC ranks (in 2017 and 2016, respectively) sit tied atop the yearly coaches' survey with 44 points. The defending champion Generals secured four first-place votes, while the Yellow Jackets picked up a pair. Hampden-Sydney College stands alone in third with 37 tallies and one top nod, while ODAC-newcomer Ferrum College and Shenandoah University are locked for fourth with 26 markers. The Panthers earned the remaining first-place vote as they join the league as the eighth football-playing member. Emory & Henry College and Bridgewater College round out the poll.
Guilford head coach Chris Rusiewicz enters his eighth season on the Quakers' sidelines with 10 starters among 37 letter winners from last year's 5-5 club (3-3 ODAC). The team welcomes back First Team All-ODAC all-purpose back De'Eric Bell, who earned first-team All-America honors from two organizations after leading NCAA Division III in all-purpose yards (2,221) and combined kick returns (1.043). The senior running back and team captain set the school record for all-time rushing scores (32) in 2017 and needs 25 points and five touchdowns to set Guilford's career records in those categories. He also owns school marks for career kickoff-return yards (1,838) and career all-purpose yards (6.237).
Bell, the ODAC's career all-purpose yardage leaders, headlines a solid cast of returning specialists, which includes junior kicker/punter Harrison Kiser. Kiser was a 2017 Third Team All-ODAC kicker after connecting on five-of-seven field goals and 36-of-39 point-after attempts. He was Guilford's punter as a rookie and ranked 70th in the country that season with a 38.0-yard average.
Four starters are back on defense, including a pair of all-conference performers. Junior captain Reggie Williams garnered Second Team All-ODAC laurels in 2017 compiling a career-high 69 tackles, which ranked third on the team. He also made two interceptions and broke up three passes. Senior Trevon Simmons was a third-team all-league linebacker a year ago after making 49 stops, seven behind the line.
Guilford opens its 10-game slate September 1 versus visiting Huntingdon College at 1:00 p.m. The Hawks are the three-time defending USA South Athletic Conference champions and hope to avenge a setback to the Quakers in last year's lid-lifter. Guilford's ODAC-opener coincides with the school's Homecoming Weekend September 29 versus Bridgewater at 1:00 p.m.
2018 ODAC Preseason Football Coaches' Poll (First-place votes in parentheses)
1. Washington and Lee (4) 44 points, 1. Randolph-Macon (2) 44, 3. Hampden-Sydney (1) 37, 4. Ferrum (1) 26, 4. Shenandoah 26, 6. Guilford 19, 7. Emory & Henry 18, 8. Bridgewater.