DEFIANCE, OHIO - The 2019 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Football Preseason Coaches' Poll, released Tuesday morning by the league office, saw Defiance claim 15 points for an eighth place finish in the polling.
Defending champion Hanover was picked to repeat, claiming 60 points and seven first place votes. The Panthers are followed by perennial competitor Franklin with 52 points. Mount St. Joseph claimed the other lone first place vote while taking 51 points for third place. Rose-Hulman rounded out the top half of the polling with 39 points.
Defiance's 15 points saw them finish just short of Anderson University who sits with 17 in seventh place.
On a fairly youthful roster, the Yellow Jackets still have plenty of returning talent landing their names on the 2019 Players to Watch list.
A duo of senior wide receivers made their mark on the list. Jacob Vorce (Paw Paw, Mich. / Paw Paw) and Jason Santora (Avon / Avon) each return after playing in all ten games last season. Vorce led the Yellow Jacket receiving core in 2018 with 39 receptions for 507 total yards. Santora followed closely behind his classmate, reeling in 30 receptions for 410 yards.
Two seniors on the defensive side of the ball followed suit on the list. Braxton Horton (Dayton / Chaminade Julienne) comes off a season in which he played eight games and recorded 22 total tackles. Horton averaged 2.8 tackles for loss while forcing one fumble. Chris Keys (Pontiac, Mich. / Avondale) featured in all ten games for the Purple and Gold. Keys tallied 30 total tackles over the course of his junior campaign, including 8.5 tackles for loss.
Qauntrez Pittman (Detroit, Mich. / Churchill), Austin Pearish (Wawasee, Ind. / Wawasee) and Derek Angelone (Gibsonburg / Gibsonburg) wrapped up the defensive players to watch for DC. Pittman returns from a season in which he recorded 18 tackles over the course of ten games. The defensive lineman recorded 2.5 tackles for loss while forcing one fumle.
Pearish also featured in all ten games from the DL. The senior tallied 18 total tackles, three sacks and an interception in his junior season. Angelone featured in eight games as a defensive back for the Yellow Jackets during 2018. Angelone recorded 23 total tackles, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery while also serving as a punt/kickoff returner on special teams.
Dominic Fannin (Wakeman / Western Reserve) wrapped up the Players to Watch list for the Yellow Jackets. The sophomore offensive lineman will return after playing in six games during 2018.
Defiance is set to open the 2019 season, under the direction of second-year Head Coach Manny Matsakis, on September 7 as they travel to Albion. Kickoff is slated for 6:00 pm.
2019 HCAC FOOTBALL PRESEASON POLL
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