Dustin Hass

Carthage head football coach Dustin Hass.

According to the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin preseason coaches poll, the Carthage football team will finish right in the middle of the conference this season.

When the poll was released Thursday, the Red Men received 44 points, placing them fifth in the 10-team conference.

In 2018, head coach Dustin Hass’ first season at the helm, Carthage went 4-6 overall and 4-5 in the CCIW.

North Central favored to take first

North Central, which made the NCAA Division III Tournament for the 11th time since 2005, was picked to finish first in the conference this year with 79 points and seven first-place votes.

The Cardinals shared the CCIW title last season with Illinois Wesleyan to claim at least a share of their third consecutive conference title.

Wheaton, which tied for third place last season, was picked to finish second with 72 points and two first-place votes. Wesleyan, which has shared the conference title with North Central the last two seasons, was selected to place third with 68 points and one first-place vote.

The Titans are coached by Norm Eash, who’s entering his 33rd season and is the longest tenured coach in the CCIW.

Washington University was picked to finish fourth (57 points) and Millikin was picked to finish sixth (39), while Augustana (38), Elmhurst (23), Carroll (16) and North Park (14) were seventh through 10th.

In the national rankings, North Central (No. 5), Illinois Wesleyan (No. 15) and Wheaton (No. 22) represented the CCIW in the D3football.com preseason Top 25 poll, which was also released Thursday.

Washington U. appeared in the “others receiving votes” category.

Defending national champion Mary Hardin-Baylor was ranked No. 1.

Also in the top five was UW-Whitewater of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Warhawks checked in at No. 4.

Carthage begins its season with a non-conference game on Sept. 7 at WIAC opponent UW-Oshkosh at 1 p.m. The Titans were in the “others receiving votes” category in the D3football.com preseason Top 25 poll.

Last year, the Red Men hosted the Titans — who were ranked No. 4 after coming off an NCAA Division III runner-up finish — in a season opener at Art Keller Field and lost, 20-9.

Carthage led that game, however, 9-7 early in the fourth quarter.

Mike Johnson

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