Coyote football chosen 2nd by coaches, 1st by media
The battle for the 2022 Kansas Conference Football Championship will come down to two teams — Kansas Wesleyan and Southwestern — according to the two polls taken Thursday at the league’s annual media day.
The Coyotes were favored by the media, earning 206 points and eight first-place votes while Southwestern earned 205 points and 10 first-place votes. Coaches went with Southwestern who had 87 points and six votes for first place while KWU garnered 84 points and four votes for first place.
KWU, Southwestern and Bethel shared the 2021 title, each finishing with conference records of 9-1. Wesleyan and Southwestern qualified for the NAIA playoffs.
Bethel finished third and Avila fourth in the media poll and received one vote for first place each while the coaches picked Avila third and Bethel fourth. McPherson was fifth, Ottawa sixth and Friends seventh in both polls. Sterling finished eighth in the coaches poll and tied Saint Mary for eighth in the media poll.
First-year Wesleyan head coach Matt Myers, who replaced Myers Hendrickson in December, was unmoved by the poll.
“The college pre-season polls are interesting but I don’t care about them,” he said Thursday night. “I appreciate the sentiment from the media… I’ll bet on myself, bet on my staff and my team and see what happens.”
The Coyotes return 17 starters – 11 on defense, six on offense – as well as both kickers. They will face an ever-improving KCAC field, according to Myers.
“I’ve been in the KCAC for eight years and it’s getting better and better – the coaching teams, the players,” he said. “We’re growing and I’m excited to see how this year unfolds and what lies ahead for all of us.”
Myers expects 65 newcomers to show up when camp opens next month. They will join a veteran squad that includes 28 seniors.
“We’re going to bring 65 new guys into the ecosystem and kick the ball out there and see what happens,” Myers said. “Lots of seniors I’ve been with since I started coaching – some of them I’ve recruited here.
“These guys are doing everything I expect, up to the standard that’s been at Kansas Wesleyan since (former) coach (Matt) Drinkall came here in 2014. It’s a player-driven team. is a cliché, but these are the kind of teams you want to have.”
Drinkall coached KWU from 2014 to 2018, winning 40 games and leading the Coyotes to the NAIA playoffs twice in his last four seasons. Myers has joined the Drinkall team for the past three years and took the time to acknowledge his former boss on Thursday.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t shout out Coach Drinkall, the guy who got me into this business,” he said. “He’s been a sounding board for me for years and years. I’m in constant contact with him and he gives me great advice all the time, whether asked or unsolicited. I really appreciate him and his friendship.”
KWU enjoyed a full spring workout which Myers said was beneficial.
“It was great to have a spring ball, the first in three years,” he said. “It was good to see our young guys getting some reps and developing. I think there are some that will surprise us when they get to fall camp.”
Myers will work with four new assistant coaches, including offensive coordinator James Bauer. David Leonard has been promoted to defensive coordinator and replaces Myers.
“We started the year in new positions and new responsibilities on and off the pitch, including myself,” he said. “The transition has been, in my opinion, very smooth and successful. It’s not a one-man wolf pack. I lean heavily on these guys, they’re guys that I know, that I like. and in whom I trust.”
The Coyotes’ first practice will be on August 13. They will open the season against Friends at 7 p.m. on September 3 at the Graves Family Sports Complex.
2022 KCAC Football Coaches Pre-Season Survey
1. Southwest – 87 (6 FPV)
2. Kansas Wesleyan – 83 (4)
3. Avila – 72
4. Bethel – 68
5. McPherson – 54
6. Ottawa- 42
7. Friends – 41
T8. British Pound – 35
T8. Saint Mary – 35
10. Tabor – 22
11. Bethany – 11
Note: An institution’s coach did not submit a ballot
2022 KCAC Football Media Pre-Season Survey
1. Kansas Wesleyan – 206 (8)
2. Southwest – 205 (10)
3. Bethel – 175 (1)
4. Avila – 171 (1)
5. McPherson – 120
6. Ottawa- 105
7. Friends – 85
8. Sterling – 79
9. St. Mary – 73
10. Tabor – 70
11. Bethany – 31