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St. Xavier football aims at NAIA title repeat

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Updated: October 7, 2012 8:06AM

With one victory in the book and a rugged schedule ahead, defending NAIA football champion St. Xavier is on track for another explosive season.

“Offensively, we averaged about 50 points a game the last three years and we have nine of 11 starters back on offense, so absolutely we’re expecting to be as explosive as we’ve always been,” coach Mike Feminis said.

The No. 1-ranked Cougars cruised in their opener, whipping Olivet Nazarene 41-12 in a Mid-States Football Association crossover game in Bourbonnais. Quarterback Jimmy Coy completed 35 of 53 passes for 426 yards and five touchdowns, and ran eight times for 47 yards. Fourteen completions went to wide receiver Shane Zackery, who rolled up 237 yards and scored twice.

Coy, who turned down a Utah State offer and went the junior-college route after starring at Maine South, and Zackery, from Rockford Boylan, are two big reasons St. Xavier expects to compete on a national level again. Coy was player of the game when the Cougars topped Carroll of Montana 24-14 for the national title.

“Jimmy Coy is a special player at our level,” Feminis said. “He benefited coming from a spread system like Maine South and he had the same thing at the junior college. We’re fortunate to have him.

“Shane is probably as talented as any small college wide receiver. For us he’s a big-time player. He’s a speed guy with the hands of a possession receiver.”

Saturday, the Cougars play host to seventh-ranked St. Francis of Joliet in another MSFA crossover. There are three more ranked teams on the schedule — No. 22 Langston, No. 6 St. Francis of Indiana and No. 3 Marian, the team St. Xavier beat in the semifinals last year.

Wheaton strong

After an opening 48-7 home rout of Benedictine, Wheaton has risen to from No. 15 to No. 10 in the NCAA Division III poll. The Thunder, 8-2 overall and third at 5-2 in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin last season, spread around 545 yards of total offense, with tailback Peter Jarrett running for 107 yards and Justin Swider for 94.

It was a tougher start for six-time defending CCIW champion North Central. The Cardinals lost 21-17 to Wisconsin LaCrosse and fell from No. 6 in the preseason poll to No. 13. North Central outgained LaCrosse 392-206, but committed six turnovers in its first regular-season home loss since 2007.

Off and running

North Central’s John Cr ain was named CCIW men’s cross-country runner of the week after winning Friday’s Elmhurst College Early Bird Invitational with a record time of 18:53.1 on the 6,000-meter course. The Cardinals, who won their 14th national title last fall, again are ranked No. 1 in Division III.

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