by Alan Babbitt
The Hope College football team heads into the 2019 season as the preseason favorite to win the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association title.
The Flying Dutchmen topped the 2019 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Preseason Coaches Poll announced on Monday.
Hope finished with 11 points and four of seven possible first-place votes. Coaches could not vote for their own team..
The Flying Dutchmen edged two teams in the poll by three points: Trine University and Albion College. Both Trine and Albion received two first-place votes apiece. Trine has won the past two MIAA championships.
Led by fourth-year head coach Peter Stuursma, Hope returns two All-MIAA first-team selections: senior quarterback Mason Opple of Hudsonville, Michigan (Hudsonville HS) and center Zach Smith of Suttons Bay, Michigan (Suttons Bay). Smith is a preseason D3football.com third-team All-American.
The Flying Dutch also bring back four All-MIAA Second-Team honorees: defensive back Luke Beckhusen of Coldwater, Michigan (Coldwater), receiver Christian Bos of Hudsonville, Michigan (Unity Christian), senior linebacker Mason Dekker of Holland, Michigan (West Ottawa) and senior left tackle Timothy Ivery of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan (Birmingham Brother Rice).
Hope is coming off an 8-2 season in 2018. It marked the first time in 43 years that the Flying Dutchmen recorded back-to-back, eight-win seasons.