MADISON, S.D. – Coach Pete Stanton and the Dickinson (N.D.) State football program have been pegged by the North Star Athletic Association coaches as the conference's preseason favorite, the league announced Tuesday with the unveiling of the 2020 NSAA Football Coaches' Preseason Poll.
Stanton's Blue Hawks, who have won the past five NSAA conference championships, received five first-place votes and 30 total points to take the top spot in the preseason poll. Valley City (N.D.) State received the other first-place vote and finished second in the rankings. The conference's six coaches voted in the poll but were not allowed to vote for their own team.
Dickinson State went 8-3 last season with a 6-1 record in conference play to qualify for the NAIA Football Championships Series. The Blue Hawks lost to No. 1-ranked Morningside (Iowa) in the opening round and finished with the No. 17 ranking in the final NAIA top 25 poll.
To earn an automatic bid to the NAIA playoffs, a team needs to be in the top 20 in the national poll and win the conference title, but the NAIA playoffs won't be held this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic. The NAIA has postponed its fall sports championships to the spring.
The North Star Athletic Association is one of six NAIA conferences still aiming to play at least a portion of its football schedule this fall. NSAA member schools will play nine conference games in 2020, kicking off the fall schedule on Sept. 12 with three scheduled games: Dickinson State at Dakota State (S.D.), Valley City State at Presentation (S.D.), and Waldorf (Iowa) at Mayville (N.D.) State.
The complete North Star Athletic Association Football Coaches' Preseason Poll is below.
2020 North Star Athletic Association Football Coaches' Preseason Poll
|Rank||School(First-Place Votes in parenthesis)||Points|
|1||Dickinson State (N.D.) (5)||30|
|2||Valley City State (N.D.) (1)||25|
|4||Dakota State (S.D.)||17|
|6||Mayville State (N.D.)||12|