Rocky Mountain College’s football team is ranked No. 19 nationally in the first regular-season edition of the NAIA Top 25 coaches’ poll, which was released on Monday afternoon.
The Battlin’ Bears, 3-0 and off to the program’s best start since 1998, are one of four Frontier Conference teams included in the national balloting.
Eastern Oregon University (2-0) is No. 8, Carroll College (1-2) is No. 12 and Montana Tech (1-1) is No. 20.
Rocky will be in Helena on Saturday to play Carroll at 1 p.m. The Saints were ranked No. 2 in the NAIA’s preseason poll, but dropped 10 spots after losing at Montana Tech 37-20 last Saturday.
The Bears, who won their home opener 52-30 over Southern Oregon last weekend, weren’t ranked in the preseason poll, which was released in August.
Rocky was ranked 20th in the first poll last season – and the Bears climbed as high as No. 17. Prior to the 2011 season, Rocky last appeared in the poll in 2000.
Perennial Frontier and national power Carroll is ranked outside the Top 10 for the first time since 2004, which is also the last time the Saints lost back-to-back games.
Tech’s No. 20 ranking is its highest since the 2007 campaign.
Saint Xavier, Ill., which is the reigning national champion, is 2-0 and ranked No. 1 by the NAIA coaches.