The Wayne State College football team was picked 13th overall and sixth in the South Division in the 2019 NSIC Preseason Football Coaches’ Poll released Wednesday morning by the league office in Burnsville, Minnesota. Senior linebacker Tyler Thomsen and junior tight end Conner Paxton were listed as Wildcats to Watch in the NSIC this season. Wayne State collected 73 points overall and 16 in the South Division in voting conducted by league coaches. The Wildcats were 3-8 overall and sixth in the NSIC South Division at 2-5 in divisional play.
Minnesota State was tabbed the team to beat in the NSIC this season, receiving 224 points and 14 first-place votes followed by Minnesota Duluth in second place at 208 points and the two remaining first place ballots. Sioux Falls edged Winona State (187-182) for third place with Bemidji State at 169 points coming in fifth overall.
In the NSIC South Division poll, Minnesota State was a unanimous choice in the South Division (coaches can not vote for own team) with 49 points and seven first-place votes. Winona State was second with 39 points followed by Sioux Falls (37) and Augustana fourth at 34 points and the remaining first place vote. Concordia-St. Paul was fifth with 25 points and Wayne State sixth with 16 points while Southwest Minnesota State and Upper Iowa tied for seventh at 12 points apiece.
Wayne State’s Defensive Player to Watch in the NSIC this season is senior linebacker Tyler Thomsen. The 6-1, 225-pounder from Fremont (Archbishop Bergan HS) led the league in tackles per game last season (10.9) to earn First Team All-NSIC South Division honors to go with Don Hansen Football Gazette Third Team All-American accolades. He posted 10 or more tackles in eight games last season, highlighted by a season-best 15 tackles with one interception for 49 yards in a 42-35 win at Upper Iowa.
The Wildcats’ Offensive Player to Watch is junior tight end Conner Paxton from Stuart (Stuart HS). At 6-2, 230 pounds, Paxton led all NSIC tight ends last season with 34 catches for 439 yards and two TD’s, collecting All-NSIC South Division honorable mention recognition. He recorded at least one catch in 10 of 11 games, highlighted by a season-best six receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown in a 23-14 win at Southwest Minnesota State.
Wayne State will kick off the 2019 season on Saturday, September 7th at Winona State in a 1 p.m. game followed by the Wildcats’ home opener on Saturday, September 14th hosting Southwest Minnesota State at 6 p.m.