PELLA—Coming off an NCAA Division III quarterfinal-round playoff appearance, Central College is ranked No. 14 in the D3football.com preseason poll.
The Dutch return nine starters with seven American Rivers all-conference performers from a squad that posted a 12-1 record, winning the school’s 32nd conference championship and gaining its 22nd NCAA playoff berth. Central was rated No. 6 in the final 2021 D3football.com poll. Jeff McMartin, last season’s AFCA Division III coach of the year, has 42 returning letterwinners as he heads into his 20th campaign with the Dutch.
The defending champion University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas) is ranked No. 1, receiving 23 of 25 first-place votes. North Central College (Ill.) is rated second while the University of Mount Uniion (Ohio) received two first-place votes and is ranked third.
Central is ranked one spot behind Bethel University (Minn.), the team the Dutch defeated in the opening round of the playoffs at Pella last year 61-35.
No other American Rivers schools are ranked but Wartburg College and Coe College are among those receiving votes.
The Dutch open the 2022 campaign Sept. 3 with the first of six home games, taking on St. Olaf College (Minn.) at Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium.
D3football.com preseason top 25
|Rank||School (No. 1 votes)||W-L||Points|
|1||Mary Hardin-Baylor (23)||15-0||619|
|2||North Central (Ill.)||13-1||587|
|3||Mount Union (2)||13-1||577|
Others receiving votes: Susquehanna 59; Carnegie Mellon 55; Baldwin Wallace 52; Redlands 49; John Carroll 39; Union 36; Lake Forest 31; Aurora 27; Westminster (Pa.) 24; Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 10; Wartburg 7; Gustavus Adolphus 6; Albion 6; DePauw 6; UW-Stout 4; Washington U. 4; Washington & Jefferson 4; Centre 3; Rose-Hulman 3; Huntingdon 2; Williams 2; Coe 1; Grove City 1; Washington and Lee 1.
The D3football.com Top 25 is voted on by a panel of 25 coaches, Sports Information Directors and media members from across the country, and is published weekly. Points are awarded on a 25-24-23-22-etc. basis.