NSIC Coaches Poll picks Warrior Football to Finish 8th
Burnsville, MN – The Northern Sun’s annual coaches’ preseason poll has been released. Winona State received 139 votes in the overall poll to finish eighth. They were selected to finish fifth in the South Division with 27 points. The Warriors open their season on Thursday, September 1st against Minnesota Crookston at 6:00 p.m. at Altra Federal Credit Union Stadium.
Winona State will return most of its offense in 2016 including starting quarterback Jack Nelson and running back Paul Preston. Nelson set a school season record with 3,419 yards last year and is already the school’s all-time leader in career passing yards and touchdowns. Preston finished the season with 897 yards, 66% of the teams total rushing yards. He ranked fourth in the Northern Sun with 89.7 yards per game.
Nelson will miss his top two targets from last season after All-NSIC performers Josh Mikes and Alan May graduated. The good news is Cameron Johnson and Preston are back as targets for Nelson after combining for 1,124 receiving yards. Johnson tied for the team lead with eight receiving touchdowns.
Defensively the Warriors will rely on their experienced linebackers and secondary in 2016 to stop their opponents. Last year the team caused 23 turnovers and were fifth in the NSIC in sacks with 25.
The special teams’ unit returns CoSIDA All-American Carter McCauley, who was 18-22 in field goals and finished fourth in the league in scoring average. In addition, McCauley had seven of the top-19 longest field goals in program history in 2015.