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Saxons picked to win third straight Empire 8 football title
8/10/11

ALFRED, NY - The Alfred University football team, coming off one of the best seasons in program history, has been picked to win a third consecutive Empire 8 Conference crown.

The 2011 Empire 8 preseason coaches poll was released today (Aug. 10). AU received six of eight first-place votes to garner 48 total points, ahead of conference newcomer Salisbury, which earned one first-place vote and 39 total points.

Alfred went 10-3 last season and claimed the team’s first-ever outright conference title with a 5-0 mark in Empire 8 play. The Saxons earned the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA playoffs and won two tournament games before falling in the national quarterfinals to eventual national runner-up Mount Union. AU won a share of the Empire 8 crown in 2009 and won a tiebreaker to earn the conference’s NCAA bid. An E8 regular season championship this year would give Alfred a third straight trip to the NCAAs and the program’s fourth overall.

St. John Fisher, the conference runner-up in 2010, received 36 points and was picked to finish third. Springfield, which received one first-place vote and 35 points, was picked to place fourth. Ithaca (27 points) was picked fifth; Utica (15), sixth; Hartwick (14), seventh; and conference newcomer Frostburg (10), eighth.

Alfred returns nine of 11 starters on defense, including senior linebacker Nick Clark (Canisteo, NY/Canisteo-Greenwood), the 2010 Empire 8 Defensive Player of the Year, and junior tackle Mike Raplee (Dundee, NY/Dundee), an Empire 8 First Team all-star a season ago. Both were named by D3football.com as preseason All-Americans for the upcoming season. Sophomore tailback Austin Dwyer (Hornell, NY/Hornell), the 2010 Empire 8 Rookie of the Year, and senior quarterback Tom Secky (Bemus Point, NY/Maple Grove), a three-time conference all-star, also return. D3football.com has AU ranked 18th in its preseason national poll.

The Saxons open their 2011 season opener on Sept. 10 at home against RPI and opens Empire 8 play Sept. 24 at home against Springfield.