WAYNE – With 17 of the 22 starters returning for the Wayne State College football team, Monday afternoon the league office in Burnsville, Minnesota announced the 2017 NSIC Preseason Coaches Poll.
Following a 3-8 overall record (2-5 NSIC South – T-fifth), the Wildcats tied for 11th last year. This year with 81 points overall and 17 points in the South Division, WSC is selected to finish 12th overall. Voting is conducted by league coaches.
The 17 points also tab the ‘Cats as sixth in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference South Division. Minnesota State-Mankato is the Division favorite with six first place votes (48) while Augustana University (38) and University of Sioux Falls (35) each received a first-place vote and round out the top three teams. Winona State is fourth (34), followed by Southwest Minnesota State in fifth (30), Upper Iowa is seventh (14) and Concordia-St. Paul is eighth (8).
Wildcat players to watch this year are Zach Osborn on the offensive side and Tyler Thomsen on the defense.
Minnesota State edged Minnesota Duluth as the preseason favorite in the NSIC. MSU received 213 points and four first-place votes compared to UMD’s 209 points and seven first-place votes while being the favorite in the North Division with 48 points and six first-place votes. Rounding out the top five teams overall are Bemidji State with 184 points and two first-place votes, Augustana at 172 points and one first-place vote and Sioux Falls with 171 points and the final two first-place votes.
Winona State was sixth with 165 points followed by MSU Moorhead (137), Southwest Minnesota State (129), Northern State (121) and St. Cloud State (101).
Upper Iowa (86) edged Wayne State (81) for 11th place with Concordia-St. Paul a distant 13th with 54 points. Minot State (51), University of Mary (29) and Minnesota Crookston (17) rounded out the 16-team conference.
Wayne State’s Offensive Player to Watch is quarterback Zach Osborn. A 6-1, 195-pound senior from Harlan, Iowa, Osborn threw for 2,666 yards and 25 TD’s last season while completing 224-405 passes. He ranked sixth last season in the NSIC in total offense per game (279.6 yards) and was ninth in the league in passing yards per game (242.4). Osborn enters this season ranked second in school history in numerous passing categories trailing only Silas Fluellen (2006-09), including total offense yards (9,128), touchdown passes (71) and passing yards (8,415).
The Wildcat Defensive Player to Watch this season is sophomore linebacker Tyler Thomsen. The 6-1, 220 pounder, a graduate of Fremont Bergan HS, ranked second on the team last year in total tackles as a redshirt freshman with 66 while appearing in all 11 games with nine starts. He had 42 solo stops and ranked third on the team in tackles for loss with three for 18 yards. Thomsen also had one fumble recovery, one break-up and one quarterback hurry.
One of the key losses, due to graduation, for the Wayne State football team is replacing their top tackler in All-NSIC and All-Region selection Cam Montgomery. He recorded 74 tackles, had six interceptions and 10 pass deflections.
On special teams, the ‘Cats return All-NSIC South Division punter Cody Netusil, a junior who averaged 40.5 yards per punt a year ago. Also, sophomore placekicker Ethan Knudson, who connected on 9 of 12 field goals while just averaging 59 yards per kickoff with 12 touchbacks is back.
Wayne State will open the 2017 football season on Thursday, August 31 at Northern State in a 6 p.m. contest. The Wildcats’ home opener is scheduled for Saturday, September 9th against the University of Mary at 6 p.m.
2017 Preseason NSIC Football Coaches Poll
- Minnesota State (4) 213 pts.
- Minnesota Duluth (7) 209 pts.
- Bemidji State (2) 184 pts.
- Augustana (1) 172 pts.
- Sioux Falls (2) 171 pts.
- Winona State 165 pts.
- MSU Moorhead 137 pts.
- Southwest Minnesota State 129 pts.
- Northern State 121 pts.
- Cloud State 101 pts.
- Upper Iowa 86 pts.
- Wayne State 81 pts.
- Concordia-St. Paul 54 pts.
- Minot State 51 pts.
- University of Mary 29 pts.
- Minnesota Crookston 17 pts.