FOREST, Va. – The Old Dominion Athletic Conference released its 2012 football preseason coaches' poll on Friday morning prior to the conference's preseason conference calls. Washington and Lee was picked to finish third in the voting, receiving one first-place vote.
Defending conference champion Hampden-Sydney tops the poll with 46 points and four first-place votes, while Randolph-Macon was second with 44 points and three first-place nods. The Generals' tallied 37 points to rank third, followed by Bridgewater (32), Emory & Henry (23), Catholic (20), Guilford (11) and league newcomer Shenandoah (11).
Washington and Lee completed the 2011 season with an 8-2 overall record and a 5-1 mark in conference play. The Generals lone conference loss was a 42-35 setback at Hampden-Sydney, W&L's only setback in ODAC play over the past two seasons (11-1).
The Blue & White returns 38 letterwinners from a year ago, including 15 of the team's 22 starters on offense (8) and defense (7). Headlining the returnees are several decorated players, including two-time First Team All-ODAC selection and 2011 Honorable Mention All-America safety Jake Pelton (Charlottesville, Va./Monticello). A senior, Pelton is also a preseason First Team All-America selection by d3football.com after posting 76 tackles and a pair of interceptions last season.
Also returning are First Team All-ODAC all-purpose back Brett Murray (Lookout Mountain, Tenn./Baylor School), Second Team All-ODAC running back Luke Heinsohn (Charlottesville, Va./Covenant), Second Team All-ODAC tight end Alex Evans (Ashburn, Va./Broad Run), Second Team All-ODAC offensive lineman Connor Hollenbeck (Alpharetta, Ga./Alpharetta), Third Team All-ODAC linebacker Stephen Peck (Grosse Pointe, Mich./Cranbrook-Kingswood) and Third Team All-ODAC offensive lineman Bobby Jones (Lynchburg, Va./Heritage).
A senior, Murray has totaled 3,743 all-purpose yards and 26 touchdowns over his career, while Heinsohn has accumulated the sixth-best career rushing total (2,264) and the eighth-best scoring total (156) in program history over his first three seasons. Evans snared 25 passes for 470 yards and seven touchdowns during his sophomore campaign in 2011, while Hollenbeck and Jones both paved the way for an offense that averaged 491.8 yards and 38.9 points per game during the 2011 season, their sophomore campaign. Peck returns for his senior season after posting 46 tackles and six sacks last season. He is the leading returning sack artist in the conference.
Washington and Lee will begin its first season under the direction of new head coach Scott Abell on September 1 when it travels to Franklin & Marshall for a 1:00 pm contest. The Generals will be attempting to break a string of 20-straight losses in road-openers.
2012 ODAC FOOTBALL PRESEASON POLL
(#) Denotes first place votes
1. Hampden-Sydney (4) 46 pts.
2. Randolph-Macon (3) 44 pts.
3. Washington and Lee (1) 37 pts.
4. Bridgewater 32 pts.
5. Emory & Henry 23 pts.
6. Catholic 20 pts.
7. Guilford 11 pts.
7. Shenandoah 11 pts.