Mustangs seventh in preseason poll

By David Merrill

dmerrill@marshall

independent.com

The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Football Preseason Coaches Poll was released on Thursday and Southwest Minnesota State cracked the top 10, coming in at No. 7.

While SMSU coach Cory Sauter doesn’t read too much into the polls, he is pleased with where his team is ranked.

“It’s the highest we’ve ever been ranked (in preseason),” Sauter said. “We’re 14th or 15th typically. We don’t put too much stock in it, though. It’s just a general gauge. We’re just eager to get back to work and preparing for the season.”

SMSU running back Tyler Tonderum had a breakout season last year for the Mustangs and it earned him the honor of being NSIC South Preseason Player of the Year.

Last season, Tonderum ran for 2,145 yards- a school record and good for the second most in the country at a Division II program.

He also tallied a school record 19 touchdowns and rushed for more than 100 yards in 10 games.

His career-high 343-yard performance came against Minnesota State-Moorehead.

Tonderum is entering his final season as a Mustang and Sauter knows his running back has already accomplished a lot.

“There’s not a whole lot more for him to prove,” Sauter said. “He has a big target on his back now. Nobody knew about him last year because he didn’t even start to begin with. He just needs to keep doing what he’s been doing. We don’t need him getting caught up in stats and expecting to have the season that he did last year and he understands that. He understands that winning football games is the most important stat there is.”more than 100 yards in 10 games.

His career-high 343-yard performance came against Minnesota State-Moorehead.

Tonderum is entering his final season as a Mustang and Sauter knows his runningback has already accomplished a lot.

“There’s not a whole lot more for him to prove,” Sauter said. “He has a big target on his back now. Nobody knew about him last year because he didn’t even start to begin with. He just needs to keep doing what he’s been doing.”

“We don’t need him getting caught up in stats and expecting to have the season that he did last year and he understands that. He understands that winning football games is the most important stat there is.”

The rest of

the field

Minnesota State and Minnesota Duluth top the preseason poll with 215 and 212 points respectively.

Minnesota Duluth boasts a star running back of its own.

Austin Sikorski was voted the NSIC North Preseason Player of the year.

He finished last season with 1,260 yards and boasted a 6.4 yards-per- carry average.

Sikorski averaged close to 100 yards per game and scored 16 touchdowns for the Bulldogs last season.

Grant Singer of the University of Mary took home Preseason Defensive Player of the Year honors for the North.

Hancock led the league in tackles last season with 118 and had 54 solo tackles from the outside linebacker position.

Those statistics earned him 2013 NSIC Co-Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Hancock was also second in the conference with 16.5 tackles for loss last season and fourth in sacks with 7.5

In the South, Nathan Hancock of Minnesota State is the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

The senior safety is coming off a 2013 campaign in which he had 46 tackles with 30 of them being unassisted.

He was tied for the team lead in interceptions with five.

NSIC Preseason Coaches Poll

1. Minnesota-Duluth

2. Minnesota State

3. Winona State

4. St. Cloud State

5. Sioux Falls

6. Augustana College

7. Southwest Minnesota State

8. Bemidji State

9. University of Mary

10. Northern State

11. Upper Iowa

12. Concordia St. Paul

13. Wayne State

14. MSU Moorhead

15. Minot State

16. Minnesota Crookston

NSIC Preseason Coaches Poll (North)

1. Minnesota-Duluth

2. St. Cloud State

3. Bemidji State

4. Northern State

5. University of Mary

6. MSU Moorhead

7. Minot State

8. Minnesota Crookston

NSIC Preseason Coaches Poll (South)

1. Minnesota State

2. Winona State

3. Sioux Falls

4. Augustana

5. Southwest Minnesota State

6. Upper Iowa University

7. Wayne State

8. Concordia St. Paul