FOREST, Va. – The Old Dominion Athletic Conference released its 2011 preseason coaches poll on Friday morning prior to the conference’s preseason conference calls. Washington and Lee, defending conference champion, was picked atop the poll.
The Generals received five of the seven first-place votes to total 35 points, four points better than Hampden-Sydney, which garnered one first-place vote and 31 points. Bridgewater also gained a first-place vote and 25 points for third and was followed by Randolph-Macon (21 pts.), Emory & Henry (15 pts.), Catholic (14 pts.) and Guilford (6 pts.).
Washington and Lee completed the 2010 season with an 8-3 overall record and a perfect 6-0 record in ODAC play. The Generals claimed the ODAC title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament before falling to Thomas More in the first round.
W&L returns 41 letterwinners from a season ago, including 17 of the team’s 22 starters on offense (8) and defense (9). Headlining the returnees is a plethora of decorated athletes, including 2010 First Team All-ODAC picks John Fitzgibbons (Martinsville, Va./Martinsville) and Luke Heinsohn (Charlottesville, Va./Covenant) on offense and Jake Pelton (Charlottesville, Va./Monticello) on defense.
A senior captain on the offensive line, Fitzgibbons has started all 31 games during his career and is a Preseason First Team All-America selection by D3Football.com. A junior running back, Heinsohn rushed for 1,321 yards and 13 touchdowns last season, while Pelton tallied 82 tackles and led the league with six interceptions during his sophomore season at safety. He too is a Preseason First Team All-America selection, earning that distinction from The Sporting News.
Other notable returnees for the Generals include senior Second Team All-ODAC quarterback Charlie Westfal (New Canaan, Conn./New Canaan), junior Second Team All-ODAC running back Brett Murray (Lookout Mountain, Tenn./Baylor School) and junior Second Team All-ODAC linebacker Jesse Jenkins (Roanoke, Va./William Fleming).
A team captain, Westfal has thrown for better than 3,000 yards and run for more than 1,500 yards and has combined for 46 touchdowns over his first three seasons. Murray rushed for 738 yards and nine touchdowns and he caught 14 balls for 147 yards and three more touchdowns last season. His 1,381 all-purpose yards led the team. Jenkins led the team with 84 tackles and had one interception and one sack.
Washington and Lee begins its 2011 season with a September 3 home game against Franklin & Marshall. Kickoff is slated for 1:00 pm.
-- GENERALS --
2011 ODAC FOOTBALL PRESEASON POLL
(#) Denotes first place votes
1. Washington and Lee (5) 35 pts.
2. Hampden-Sydney (1) 31 pts.
3. Bridgewater (1) 25 pts.
4. Randolph-Macon 21 pts.
5. Emory & Henry 15 pts.
6. Catholic 14 pts.
7. Guilford 6 pts.