LANCASTER, PA – The Johns Hopkins football team earned 14 of 20 first-place votes and grabbed 158 points to earn the top spot in the 2014 Centennial Conference Preseason Poll of head coaches and sports information directors. The poll was announced at Kickoff 14, the Centennial Conference's annual media day on the campus of Franklin & Marshall College.
Johns Hopkins earned the top spot in the poll for the sixth straight year and the ninth time since 2004. The Blue Jays went on to win the Centennial title in seven of the previous eight years in which it topped the preseason poll, including each of the last five years.
Muhlenberg picked up the remaining six first-place votes and totaled 147 points to finish second in the poll, while Ursinus (125 points), Franklin & Marshall (111) and Juniata (96) round out the top five. Gettysburg (80), Moravian (60), Dickinson (52), Susquehanna (42) and McDaniel (27) ranked sixth through 10th.
The Blue Jays have won five straight Centennial Conference titles, including outright championships in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013 and a shared title in 2010. In all, Johns Hopkins has won nine CC championships since claiming its first title in 2002; the Blue Jays' nine all-time conference crowns are tied for the most in league history.
Head coach Jim Margraff welcomes back 13 starters from last season's team, which spent the entire season ranked in the top 15 in the nation. The Blue Jays have been ranked for 30 consecutive weeks dating back to the first poll of the 2011 season.
Headlining Margraff's returning starters are nine on defense, including co-captains Michael Longo (DE) and Ryan Rice (DB), who are back after earning First Team All-Centennial Conference honors a year ago. Joining Longo up front are fellow seniors Matthew Connery and Michael Rocca, while seniors Jimmy Holder and Chris Ibrahim return to the secondary with Rice. An athletic group of returning starters at linebacker includes senior Hani Annabi along with juniors Keith Corliss and Brady Watts.
The third returning First Team All-Centennial selection for the Blue Jays this season is junior running back Brandon Cherry. Cherry makes up half of one of the top returning running back tandems in the nation as he and sophomore Stuart Walters combined to rush for 1,649 yards and 13 touchdowns a year ago. Junior Colin Egan (OL) and classmate Ryan Finkel (WR) are Johns Hopkins' other returning starters to an offense that averaged a school-record 40.5 points per game last season.
With the loss of eight starters on offense, sophomore place-kicker Nick Campbell will likely earn additional opportunities for field goals. All he did a year ago as a freshman was lead the nation in field goal percentage by hitting 10-of-11 (.909) while also connecting on 54-of-55 extra points en route to grabbing Second Team All-Centennial honors.
Johns Hopkins opens the 2014 season on Saturday, September 6 when the Blue Jays welcome Randolph-Macon to Homewood Field. Earning a sixth consecutive Centennial Conference title will be no small task for Johns Hopkins, which will travel to Muhlenberg, Ursinus and F&M – the teams that ranked second, third and fourth in the preseason poll.
2014 Centennial Conference Preseason Football Poll
Rk. School (1st place votes) – Points (2013 record)
1. Johns Hopkins (14) – 158 (10-1 overall, 9-0 CC)
2. Muhlenberg (6) – 147 (8-3, 7-2)
3. Ursinus – 125 (7-3, 6-3)
4. Franklin & Marshall – 111 (7-4, 6-3)
5. Juniata – 96 (7-4, 6-3)
6. Gettysburg – 80 (4-6, 3-6)
7. Moravian – 60 (2-8, 2-7)
8. Dickinson – 52 (3-7, 3-6)
9. Susquehanna – 42 (1-9, 1-8)
10. McDaniel – 27 (2-8, 2-7)
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