KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It's been 11 years since a Bethel Thresher football team has seen its name in the NAIA Top 25 weekly poll.
That drought ended Monday.
The Bethel Threshers entered the mix this afternoon, as the poll was released officially by both the NAIA and the AFCA. The Threshers came in at 25th with 39 total points from the panel of national voters.
Bethel's 31-26 victory on Saturday over (RV) Sterling helped solidify their spot among the nation's best this week, as does their current 4-0 record on the season.
"We talked to our team Sunday about the possibility of being ranked," Bethel coach Terry Harrison said. "Ultimately, I think it's awesome for all the former Threshers out there that put so much effort into this program. We are lucky to have a team that is simply trying to build something that the BC community can be proud of."
Harrison and his staff are in their second year with the program at Bethel and are currently sitting at a 7-7 overall mark in that time. The Threshers are currently the top-ranked rushing offense in the NAIA, averaging just south of 372 yards per game.
"I do think it does validate the commitment that our current players have made to Thresher Football,” Harrison said. “We have a handful of guys that stuck it out here through some pretty tough times when it would've been easy to quit. I'm so happy that those young men have been able to experience some success both on and off the field. I'm also happy and thankful for the families of our players. So many of them committed to the vision we had for Thresher Football and had to take a leap of faith on our staff, it's been awesome to share this great start with them."
The Threshers join no. 4 Kansas Wesleyan as the only other school from the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference to be ranked in the NAIA Top 25. Bethel came up one point shy of being in a tie for 24th with the no. 24 Baker Wildcats.
The last time the Threshers were in the NAIA Top 25 poll was November 3rd, 2008, when a 6-2 Threshers squad was picked 23rd. Bethel had previously been as high as 13th in that season's polls. Bethel's highest ranking in this century came on Oct. 15, 2007, when the eventual KCAC champions were picked 11th that week.
Bethel was third in the final regular-season NAIA Division II poll in 1984.
"Ultimately, we have focused on getting better each day as a program,” Harrison said. “We are excited to get to practice this week to build off our success and focus on all the things we need to fix.”
Bethel is one of 17 remaining undefeated teams in the NAIA and will face their next test this Saturday at Jantz Stadium in Winfield. The Threshers square off with Southwestern College (2-2, 2-1) at 1 p.m., looking to avenge last season's 45-14 loss to the Moundbuilders.
2019 NAIA Football Coaches'
Top 25 Poll
3;3;Saint Francis (Ind.);3-0;362
7;7;Grand View (Iowa);5-0;295
9;10;College of Idaho;4-0;276
10;11;Lindsey Wilson (Ky.);4-0;259
13;16;Dickinson State (N.D.);3-1;187
15;9;Saint Xavier (Ill.);1-2;174
19;20;Siena Heights (Mich.);4-0;124
20;21;Ottawa (Ariz.) (AZ);4-0;104
Dropped Out: Cumberland (Tenn.)
Others Receiving Votes: MidAmerica Nazarene 19, Cumberland (Tenn.) 10, Sterling 3.