According to the preseason NAIA Top 25 poll, coaches around the NAIA are projecting Southern Oregon to bounce back from last year's 5-6 showing. The rest of the Frontier Conference is getting ample respect, too.
The Raiders will start at No. 25 in the rankings after being picked with Carroll (Mont.) to finish third in the Frontier last week. The circuit has four teams in the preseason poll for the second year in a row, also represented by No. 6 Montana Tech, No. 7 Eastern Oregon and No. 19 Montana Western. Carroll received votes.
Saint Francis (Ind.), the defending national champion, is the unanimous No. 1 with all 16 first-place votes.
The Raiders have been included in the preseason Top 25 five straight years after being left out of the previous 10. They started last year ranked second.
SOU played 21 of its 39 NAIA games against top-25 opponents over the previous three seasons, going 14-7 in those games, including a 2-2 mark in 2016. The Raiders will add another one in their season opener, Aug. 31 against Eastern Oregon.
The first regular-season poll will be released Sept. 11, following SOU's second game of the season at College of Idaho.
The Raiders opened fall camp Tuesday with a newcomers-only practice. They'll hold their first full-squad practice on Thursday.