The Southwest Minnesota State football team was picked to finish 12th in the 16-team Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference for the 2012 season, as selected by the league's coaches in the NSIC Preseason Coaches' Poll. The Mustangs were picked to finish last in the NSIC's South Division.
Minnesota-Duluth, the four-time defending NSIC champion, was selected as the preseason favorite to win the conference. The team finished with 217 points and received nine first-place votes. St. Cloud State was voted to finish second with six first-place votes and 211 points, and Minnesota State-Mankato received one first-place vote and 197 points to place third in the poll. The Mavericks were also picked to win the South Division.
Rounding out the top 10 teams in the poll were Winona State (175 points), Augustana (169), Bemidji State (145), Wayne State (139), Sioux Falls (116), the University of Mary (112) and Concordia-St. Paul (103).
The teams finishing in the bottom six slots in the preseason poll were Northern State (94), SMSU (75), Upper Iowa (62), Minot State (46), Minnesota State-Moorhead (42) and Minnesota-Crookston (17).
Minot State and Sioux Falls will both be playing their first season in the NSIC in 2012.
SCSU junior Phillip Klaphake, a 2011 First Team All-NSIC quarterback, was named the NSIC North Offensive Preseason Player of the Year. He has passed for over 4,000 yards and rushed for over 1,000 yards over his first two seasons.
The Huskies also have the NSIC North Defensive Preseason Player of the Year in senior defensive back Marvin Matthews. Matthews earned AFCA Division II All-America honors last year after recording 46 solo stops and 70 total tackles. He also had three interceptions.
Rayon Simmons, a senior running back from Winona State, was selected as the NSIC South Offensive Preseason Player of the Year. He enters the season needing 392 yards to become the Warriors all-time leading rusher after running for 1,326 yards last year.
The NSIC South Defensive Preseason Player of the Year is Austin Luecke of Augustana. The linebacker finished with 107 tackles last season, including 10 tackles for loss.
The conference also named two "Players to Watch" for each team in 2012. For SMSU, senior quarterback Tyler Peschong and junior linebacker J.J. Bobrowicz were the two players chosen.
Peschong started all 11 games for the Mustangs last year, completing 243 of 419 passes for 2,627 yards and 20 touchdowns. The second team All-NSIC South Division honoree also rushed for 414 yards and seven touchdowns.
Bobrowicz started 11 games for SMSU in 2011 and is the team's top returning tackler. He had 71 tackles last season, including 4.5 for loss.
The Mustangs, who finished 3-8 overall last year, report to fall practice Friday and open the 2012 season at home on Aug. 30 against Minnesota-Duluth.