ST. LOUIS - The Mercer University football program was picked to finish 11th in the 12-team Pioneer Football League Tuesday afternoon, as the 2013 Preseason Coaches' Poll was released from the league office.
Entering their first season of football in 70 years, the Bears were picked ahead of Stetson, another start-up program, while finishing just 12 points behind Valparaiso for the No. 10 spot.
San Diego received five of the 12 first place votes and was picked to win the PFL crown with 111 points, edging second place Butler by a single point.
Jacksonville and Drake finished tied for third with 99 points, while Dayton rounded out the top five.
Mercer is slated to battle three of the top four teams in the preseason poll, including a road matchup with preseason favorite San Diego on Oct. 5, one of just four contests away from home for the Bears.
The Orange and Black report to camp tomorrow to begin preparation for their first season of football since 1941. Mercer opens the year Aug. 31 against Reinhardt University, one of four straight home games to open the 2013 season.
Anticipation continues to mount for Mercer's return to football, as season ticket sales eclipsed 5,000 and single game tickets sold out in 27 minutes for the Bears season-opener.
The PFL enters its 21st season in 2013, with the regular season title race leading to the league's first automatic qualification into the NCAA FCS Championship which begins Nov. 30.