By Saradon Raboin
The Sooner Athletic Conference released its 2019 Football Preseason Coaches’ Poll and Ottawa Spirit made its mark.
OUAZ earned the second spot in the conference by receiving 56 points. Three ballots picked the Spirit to win the league. The only team ranked higher was Langston University, with 61 points.
— OUAZ Spirit (@OUAZSpirit) August 2, 2019
This amount of support for the football team is impressive, especially considering the Spirit is going into their second season ever as a program.
“When you look at the ranking, it’s based off what the coaches and players have done last season. It’s more of a compliment than anything,” said OUAZ head coach Mike Nesbitt recently said to Sports360AZ.com.
In their first season, the Spirit went 7-4 overall and 5-3 in conference. One of the standout players of the season was quarterback Austin McCullough.
McCullough was recognized as the 2019 Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.
He threw for a total of 3,054 yards in only nine games. Throughout the season he had 176 completions and 35 touchdowns. At the end of the 2018 season, he earned All-Conference Honorable Mention.
“It’s exciting when your player gets an award,” Nesbitt explained. “But his achievement is a byproduct of all the players around him being successful,” .
The Spirit might relish in this recognition, but it won’t affect their gameplay.
“It excites the kids and everyone else with pride and an energy burst. But at a certain point you need to stop at the door, and check it off, and leave it in the past,” said Nesbitt.
— OUAZ Football (@OUAZFootball) July 24, 2019
The other Arizona school in the SAC, Arizona Christian University, was tied for third in the poll with Oklahoma Panhandle University with 46 points.
The votes for the preseason poll were cast by the nine head coaches in the SAC. They were not able to vote for their own team in the process.
OUAZ’s first game of the 2019 season is on August 29th at Doane University.