FOREST, Va. – Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) football coaches selected Guilford College eighth in their annual preseason poll released Monday. The Quakers garnered 19 points, two behind seventh-place Shenandoah University and 10 ahead of league newcomer Southern Virginia University in the ninth spot.
Defending league champion Randolph-Macon College earned eight first-place votes and the poll’s top spot with 64 points. Bridgewater College collected the remaining first-place vote and holds second in the poll with 51 points. Hampden-Sydney College (46 points) holds a narrow margin over Ferrum College (44 points) for the third position.
Coach Chris Rusiewicz begins his ninth season on the Quakers’ sideline with 44 letter winners returning from last year’s 3-6 club. Guilford returns seven starters on both sides of the ball, plus kicker/punter Harrison Kiser (Greensboro, N.C./Page), a 2017 All-ODAC place-kicker. The Quakers will miss five-time All-America running back/kick returner De’Eric Bell, who completed his eligibility in 2018 but remains with the team as a student assistant coach while he completes his degree requirements. Bell holds most of Guilford’s and the ODAC’s records for all-purpose yardage.
Junior quarterback Alex Manley (Tobaccoville, N.C./West Stokes), one of four team captains, returns among the seven offensive starters. Manley started all nine games under center last fall and ranked third in the league with 306.1 total offensive yards per game. He threw for 2,354 yards and 17 touchdowns in nine contests. One of his favorite targets was senior receiver Juwan Houston (Cleveland, N.C./West Rowan), who returns after garnering third-team all-league honors as a junior. Houston led the Quakers with 39 catches for 604 yards and four touchdowns in 2018. Senior captain Emory Lyndon leads the offensive line after collecting third-team all-conference honors a year ago.
Defensively, the Quakers have five returning all-conference selections among seven starters. Senior defensive end Jarrod Russ is back after an injury-plagued junior campaign that limited him to seven games. Despite the injury, the First Team All-ODAC selection led the league and ranked 17th in NCAA Division III with 1.07 sacks per contest. Russ had 7.5 sacks among his 29 total tackles and ranked second in the league (28th nationally) with 1.7 tackles per loss per game. Senior safety Jeremiah Hedrick (Sedalia, N.C./Southern Guilford), a Second Team All-ODAC performer, also missed two games as a junior, but still ranked second on the team with 53 stops and made three interceptions.
Senior defensive back Reggie Williams, a 2017 all-league performer, returns after missing most of his junior season with an injury. Senior J.T. Carmichael, a 2018 Third-Team All-ODAC pick, is another top returning defender. Linebacker Bryce Smith, who led Division III last fall with 9.0 solo tackles per game and earned D3football.com All-South honors, starts his senior season on the sidelines to recover from a knee injury suffered last spring. The captain made 105 tackles (81 solo) as a junior.
While Rusiewicz tries out new kick returners after Bell’s departure, he has a proven kicker. Kiser, who also has punted two years for the Quakers, enters his senior season ranked eighth among Guilford’s career point-after attempt leaders (44). He has a 37.8-yard career punting average in 59 attempts.
Rusiewicz and his charges kick off the 113th recorded football season in school history September 7 at Huntingdon College. The Quakers open their four-game home slate and their league schedule September 28 versus Shenandoah. The kickoff of Guilford’s Homecoming Game in Appenzeller Field in the Armfield Athletic Center is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.
2019 Old Dominion Athletic Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll (first-place votes)
1. Randolph-Macon (8) 64
2. Bridgewater (1) 51
3. Hampden-Sydney 46
4. Ferrum 44
5. Washington and Lee 38
6. Emory & Henry 33
7. Shenandoah 21
8. Guilford 19
9. Southern Virginia 8