Football Bears Garner Preseason Conference Honors; League Poll Released
ST. LOUIS -- Five Missouri State football players were honored Monday (August 2) with preseason all-conference laurels by the Missouri Valley Football Conference, while the preseason conference poll was also announced.
No surprise to the preseason all-conference list were David Arkin (Sr., OT, Wichita, Kan.), Antoine Wilkinson (Sr., LB, Magnolia, Miss.), and Waylon Richardet (Sr., DE, Perryville, Mo.) who were All-MVFC first-teamers in 2009. Also recognized were honorable mention selections Cody Kirby (Sr., QB, Rogers, Ark.) and Skylar Smith (Sr., SS, Springfield, Mo.).
What did come as a surprise to the Bears and Coach Terry Allen was the preseason poll, which tabbed the Bears to finish fifth in the nine-team league, despite returning 17 starters and 41 lettermen.
"You have to earn it," said Allen, who begins his fifth season at Missouri State. "I picked us a lot higher, and I think we will be. This is certainly the most talent we've had in my time here."
Missouri State tied for fifth in the 2009 MVFC race with a 6-5 overall ledger and 4-4 mark in the league. The Bears, however, were 3-1 in conference road games a year ago, losing only the season finale at No. 1-ranked Southern Illinois, despite rolling up 464 total yards -- more than any Saluki opponent all season.
Southern Illinois received 30 of the 36 possible first-place votes and 313 total points in the 2010 preseason poll to earn the honor as league favorites for the first time since 2005. Fellow 2009 playoff qualifier South Dakota State claimed two first-place votes and 252 points to edge out Illinois State (249) for second place, despite three first-place votes by the Redbirds.
UNI received the remaining first-place vote and 244 total points to round out the top four, followed by Missouri State (164), North Dakota State (151), Youngstown State (130), Western Illinois (70) and Indiana State (47).
The Bears were picked sixth or seventh in each of the last four MVFC preseason polls and have finished higher than projected three straight seasons. The team's fifth-place predictions in 2002, 2005 and 2010 mark the program's highest since being picked fourth in the 2000 preseason conference poll.
Both Arkin and Wilkinson have received numerous preseason All-America honors by various publications and media outlets. The tandem headlines a group of 20 seniors on the Bears' 2010 roster.
Allen and his squad begin fall camp on Wednesday and kick off the 2009 season on Thursday, Sept. 2 at Plaster Field against Eastern Kentucky at 6 p.m. Season ticket packages are available now by calling (417) 836-7678.