HAMPDEN-SYDNEY, Va. - Washington and Lee was picked to finish fifth in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference this season by the league's football coaches in the annual preseason poll as part of media day festivities at Hampden-Sydney College last week. Defending league champion Emory & Henry was picked to win the conference and was followed in the poll by Bridgewater, Guilford, Randolph-Macon, W&L and Hampden-Sydney. E&H received five of the six first place votes and Guilford received the other vote.
W&L returns 11 starters off of last season's 5-5 team, including senior All-ODAC defensive back John Benazzi who was selected as a preseason All-American by the College Football Preview magazine. W&L finished in a tie for fourth place in the league last year with a 2-3 ODAC mark.
Generals' head coach Frank Miriello puts little stock in the preseason poll. "The primary focus of our season every year is how we do overall," said Miriello. "Our short-term emphasis goal is to finish .500 or better and when we accomplish that, we may find ourselves in the upper tier of the ODAC."
W&L has finished .500 or better the last three seasons and is attempting to accomplish the feat for the fourth straight year, something that has happened only four other times in W&L history. The last time was a six-year run from 1980-85 which included ODAC championships in 1981 and 1985.
Miriello expects to welcome 82 players to the beginning of preseason camp on August 23. The Generals will then begin three weeks of two-a-day practices and will open the season on September 13 at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The complete schedule follows:
Sept. 13 - at Johns Hopkins; Sept 20 - Guilford; Sept. 27 - Centre; Oct. 4 - at Randolph-Macon; Oct. 11 - Davidson; Oct. 18 - at Hampden-Sydney; Oct. 25 - at Sewanee; Nov. 1 - Bridgewater; Nov. 8 - at Emory & Henry; Nov. 15 - Swarthmore.