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Heart of America Athletic Conference

by James Barnett

Missouri Valley seeks 3rd straight HAAC Title

Bill Clinton was still in his first term and Monica Lewinsky was just a young intern the last time a team from the Heart of America Athletic Conference won three straight league titles in football. Baker University, then a full fledged NAIA dynasty, had won or shared 12 of the previous 16 conference championships. 

Twenty seasons later, the HAAC has seen numerous teams win back to back titles, but the league’s parity and strength has halted teams from winning the league 3 seasons in a row. If preseason pundits are correct, the 20 year hiatus without a champion winning the league in 3 straight seasons should be over. 

Missouri Valley College, winners of 12 games in 2012, will have some holes to fill, but they return a nucleus of dynamic playmakers including two dynamic defensive playmakers in All-American CB Tyler Davis and arguably the NAIA’s top defensive linemen in Ty Phillips. 

Phillips, a 6’3 255lb JR from East St. Louis High School in Illinois, is coming off a season in which he accumulated an astounding 19 sacks and 30 tackles for loss. SR Tyler Davis, is dangerous to opponents whether you throw the football his direction, run his direction, or proceed to kick the football to him on Special Teams. 

JR QB Bruce Reyes will be back for his 3rd season behind center. Reyes has encountered growing pains at times, but one can’t deny his presence has corresponded with two straight conference titles. Reyes should be able to take a significant jump in year three of the scheme. The Missouri Valley offensive line will need to fill some holes left by graduation. They will be anchored and led by 6’4 310 lbs. senior Dave Steward from Lebanon, MO. 

Talent, experience, and coaching are always big factors when predicting a conference title, but schedule is also an important aspect. Missouri Valley’s schedule sets up ideally as they get to play Baker University, MidAmerica Nazarene University, and Benedictine all at home in Marshall. 

Look for Missouri Valley to end the 20 year drought, and become the first HAAC team to win or share 3 straight titles in football.  

2013 HAAC VSN Preseason Poll

1. Missouri Valley College

2. Baker University

3. MidAmerica Nazarene University

4. Benedictine

5. Evangel

6. Peru State

7. Graceland

8. Avila

9. Culver- Stockton

10. Central Methodist

VSN 2013 HAAC Preseason All-Conference

QB- Jacob Morse – Baker

RB- Greg Gates – MNU

RB- Dillon Baxter – Baker

RB- Cameron Fore- Benedictine

WR- LaDon Hudson- MNU

WR- Jesse Vaughn- Evangel

WR- DaVeion Sullivan – Avila

OL- Dave Steward – Missouri Valley

OL- Ernest Grayer III- MNU

OL- Bo Amos – CMU

OL- Tyler Ford – Peru State

OL- Justin McCandess- Baker

TE – Chris Cunningham- Culver-Stockton

DE- Ty Phillps- Missouri Valley

DE- Andre Jolly

DT- Leon Jackson- Missouri Valley

DT- Zach Lempka – Peru State

LB- Joe Camacho- MNU

LB- Billy Wendt- Graceland

LB- Andrew Huhman- Missouri Valley

LB- Jamail Randle- Evangel

CB- Tyler Davis- Missouri Valley

CB- Kamaron Riley- MNU

S- Michael Barnes- Missouri Valley

S- Joshua Wood- MNU

K- Ezekial Rivera- Central Methodist

P- Jason Mayden- Missouri Valley

Offensive Player of the Year- Jacob Morse QB, Baker University

Defensive Player of the Year- Ty Phillips, DE, Missouri Valley College