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WAUKESHA - The Lakeland College football team has been picked fifth in the Northern Athletic Conference in 2012 based on a preseason poll of league coaches released Wednesday by the conference.
The Muskies received 32 points in the poll to rank fifth of eight teams. Defending conference co-champion Benedictine (Ill.) University was tabbed as league favorites after receiving 58 points as well as five first-place votes.
Concordia University Chicago was a close second behind Benedictine with 55 points and one first-place vote. Wisconsin Lutheran College garnered the other two first-place votes and finished third overall with 52 points, while Concordia University Wisconsin placed fourth with 40 points.
Aurora (Ill.) University came in sixth in the poll with 27 points, while Maranatha Baptist Bible College and Rockford (Ill.) College tied for seventh with 12 points each.
Benedictine won the 2010 championship outright with a 7-0 NAC record before a 6-1 record earned a share of last year's title. The Eagles finished the season at 7-4 overall and earned the league's automatic berth to the NCAA III Football Championship by their 43-21 victory over Concordia Chicago in the first week of the conference schedule.
Lakeland finished 4-6 overall last year and tied Concordia Wisconsin for fourth in the NAC with a 4-3 conference record. The Muskies return 14 starters from last year, including First Team All-NAC linebacker Bruce Romagnoli (Sr.-Iron Mountain, Mich.), Second Team All-NAC defensive lineman T.J. Kinjerski (Sr.-Mishicot, Wis.) and junior quarterback Dylan Van Straten (Shiocton, Wis.).
2012 Northern Athletics Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll
1. Benedictine (5 first-place votes), 58
2. Concordia Chicago (1), 55
3. Wisconsin Lutheran (2), 52
4. Concordia Wisconsin, 40
5. Lakeland, 32
6. Aurora, 27
7. Maranatha, 12