WICHITA — There were few disagreements of who the favorites were Thursday at the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Football Media Day at the Crestview Country Club.
Kansas Wesleyan, which finished fourth in the NAIA postseason poll and reached the NAIA playoff semifinals, was picked as the near unanimous favorite by both coaches and media.
The Coyotes claimed 10 of 11 first-place votes in the coaches poll and 24 of 24 first-place votes by media.
Ottawa was second in both polls, followed by Avila, Tabor, Sterling, Southwestern, Bethel, Saint Mary, Friends, McPherson and Bethany. The only variation in the two polls was media picked Saint Mary eighth and Friends ninth, while the two schools were tied for eighth in the coaches poll.
Kansas Wesleyan features a new coach in Myers Hendrickson, who came to the Coyotes from Northern State (S.D.). He is a former KWU assistant who also had a stop at Coe College.
“Our team is humble and hungry,” Hendrickson said. “Spring ball was good. I thought we were able to really dive into the fundamentals and develop some depth. Our coaches brought in a good transfer class going this spring. We’re going to take on a 1-0 mentality to everything we do. We started that in the spring. We want to start off our season with success, and string together enough 1-0 days so that we can ultimately accomplish our goals.”
The Coyotes return 44 letter winners last season and 15 starters, nine on offense.
Other first-year head coaches introduced included Curran White at Bethany and Jeremiah Fiscus at McPherson.
Bethel coach Terry Harrison begins his season season looking to improve on a 3-7 campaign.
“Being new to Bethel, not knowing what to expect and only being here 19 months, the next 24 months at Bethel, there will be a lot of exciting news coming out,” Harrison said. “The support we get from the president and at the cabinet level, it’s a special time to be at Bethel.”
Bethel returns 26 letter winners, including 16 starters — eight on offense and eight on defense.
Harrison expects about 105 players to report this season, which would be a record number for the team.
“We rotate players in and out, so we probably have 10 players with experience on each side of the ball,” Harrison said. “We had a great spring with improvement. ... I think our talent level has increased, and we will be a lot more competitive.”
Bethel opens the season Sept. 7 at home against Bethany. The Threshers added a nonconference game against Texas College Nov. 2 in Tyler, Texas.