University of Chicago was chosen to capture its second consecutive football title and sixth in history in the University Athletic Association preseason coaches' poll for the 2015 UAA football season.
The Maroons, who are seeking back-to-back titles for the first time in program history, finished 8-1 overall a year ago and finished undefeated in UAA play. The 8-1 mark was the program's best since 1913.
Chicago returns seven starters on each side of the ball, led by senior co-captain Vincent Beltrano, a second-team D3football.com preseason All-American. The 2012 Rookie of the Year and two-time first team All-Association defensive back intercepted three passes and finished with 12 passes defended in 2014. Junior linebacker Jackson Garry returns after pacing the team with 77 tackles for the defense that ranked fifth in NCAA Division III in total defense and 18th in scoring defense last season. 2014 Rookie of the Year Chandler Carroll leads the rushing attack after totaling 593 yards and 4.4 yards per carry last season. Senior kicker Karol Kurzydlowski made nine of 11 field goals last year, including the game-winning kick in the final minute against Rhodes College.
Washington University, which won back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013, is the coaches' choice to finish second this season. The Bears return 18 starters and 70 letterwinners from last year's squad. Senior punter Alec Stanke, the 2014 UAA Special Teams Player of the Year and second-team preseason All-American, tied for fourth in NCAA Division III by averaging 42.3 yards per punt last season. Senior kicker Alex Hallwachs led the team with 72 points last season, including connecting on 15 of 21 field goals. Junior wide receiver Kevin Hammarlund led the Association with 50 receptions for 580 yards and five touchdowns last season. Senior cornerback Quincy Marting highlights seven returnees on defense after recording 49 tackles, two interceptions, and a UAA-best 10 pass break-ups a year ago.
Carnegie Mellon University and Case Western Reserve University tied for third in the coaches' preseason poll. The Tartans return 12 players on the defensive side of the ball, including last season's top tackler in senior linebacker Nico Comsa, who recorded six games of double-digit tackles. Eight of the team's top 10 tacklers in 2014 return this season. Senior quarterback Andrew Hearon threw for 1,649 yards last season and topped the single-season charts with 149 completions and 278 attempts. Sophomore Sam Benger returns after leading the team with 570 yards rushing and 1,325 all-purpose yards in his rookie campaign, while also ranking 20th in NCAA Division III by averaging 27.2 yards per kick return. Sophomore punter/placekicker Tyler Kohman set a school record with a 50-yard field goal a year ago and placed 23 punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line.
The Spartans return 10 starters on defense and eight starters on offense. 2014 first-team All-Association selections Josh Rogers and Gavin Sandidge key the defense that returns nearly its entire starting group. The offense averaged 22.0 points and 327.3 yards per game in 2014 and returns first team All-Association running backs Anthony Canganelli and Adam Hochman. CWRU has averaged nearly eight wins a season for the past eight years and seeks its first UAA title since 2011.
From 2008-2014, UAA teams posted a combined 119-79 record (.601 winning percentage) in non-conference play. This season marks the first in which all four teams are competing as affiliate members in other conferences. Carnegie Mellon and CWRU enter their second season as affiliate members of the Presidents' Athletic Conference, while Chicago and Washington start their first season in the Southern Athletic Association. All teams will remain members of the UAA as well and continue to play a round robin Association schedule.
The 2015 UAA season begins in full force on September 5th as Case Western Reserve travels to Chicago and Washington hosts Carnegie Mellon.