Duquesne expected to contend for NEC title again
College Football Videos
According to coaches in the Northeast Conference, there are no doubts about which direction Duquesne's football program is headed after a breakthrough 2011 season.
The NEC's preseason coaches' poll, released Thursday, put Duquesne at No. 2 behind defending co-champ Albany, which received six of nine first-place votes. Duquesne's placement reflects what it achieved a year ago, when the Dukes had their best finish in four seasons as an NEC member, going 9-2 overall and 7-1 in conference play to tie for first. Albany finished with the same conference record but beat Duquesne, so it earned the NEC's FCS postseason berth.
Robert Morris and St. Francis (Pa.) also learned how they're perceived by their peers, as the Colonials received the No. 6 spot, and St. Francis was picked to finish last.
“It's been a long process of developing our program in the NEC,” said Duquesne coach Jerry Schmitt, whose team thrived in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, winning 11 titles in 14 seasons. “What's very recognizable is being in the NEC, across the board, every single game counts. … It's a very challenging league, and that's what's great about it. It's so refreshing.”
The Dukes have three preseason All-NEC picks, including the conference's 2011 defensive player of the year, Serge Kona, a senior safety. The others are senior quarterback Sean Patterson and senior running back Larry McCoy. The NEC also mistakenly named Jared Williams, a defensive back who graduated last season.
Robert Morris is coming off a two-win season, its worst since 2005. But associate head coach John Banaszak said the Colonials consider themselves ready to rebound — and they'll get an idea of where they stand in Week 1.
Led by senior preseason all-conference defensive lineman Nolan Nearhoof, the Colonials will travel to Fargo, N.D., to face defending FCS national champion North Dakota State, the team that knocked Robert Morris out of the playoffs in 2010.
“We know it's going to be a very hostile environment,” said Banaszak, who spoke in place of Joe Walton, who had a schedule conflict. “(The players) know what it's going to take for us to go out there and play well. … I think it will set the table for our game the following week against the defending NEC champion (Albany).”
St. Francis (Pa.) coach Chris Villarrial acknowledged the Red Flash, a last-place finisher the previous four seasons, is still looking for solutions to the team's woes. He emphasized the promise of a reshuffled coaching staff, which added defensive coordinator Scott Benzel, a former Robert Morris assistant, and offensive coordinator Eric Long, a former Mercyhurst assistant.
“I think you'll see some of our base stuff and some of our foundation stuff,” Villarrial said of this season's play-calling. “But I think you'll also see an overhaul, see some of the stuff they ran at Mercyhurst and Robert Morris.”
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-543-1321.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers stalled by Seahawks, on outside of AFC wild-card picture
- Youthful West Mifflin girls face tall order
- Steelers’ Roethlisberger reported symptoms that led to his exit vs. Seahawks
- Rossi: It’s past time for NFL to protect players
- Holiday spirit shines in Ford City
- Division-I prospect Kalin leads up-tempo Pine-Richland girls
- Veterans courts in Pennsylvania dubbed remedy for recidivism
- Local homes tour will benefit Belle Vernon Area’s anti-drug program
- Deteriorating Monessen building under renewed scrutiny
- Steelers notebook: Seahawks’ Sherman gets better of WR Brown
- Steelers players say they support Tomlin’s attempts at deception