New Jersey Athletic Conference Releases Preseason Football Coaches Poll
Salisbury University has been selected as the 2016 preseason football favorite in the New Jersey Athletic Conference, one year after capturing a share of the NJAC Championship and claiming the league’s automatic qualification to the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Salisbury received 3-of-the-10 first-place votes cast by the league head coaches.
Rowan University was selected to place fourth and received one first-place vote. The Profs tied for fourth place in the league race with a 5-4 mark in conference play and 6-4 overall last season under head coach Jay Accorsi. Rowan returns seven all-conference players from 2015, including senior defensive back Bobby Barbieri, senior defensive back Jared Sanchez, junior defensive back Shaquille Lee, junior returner Jamel Smith, senior linebacker John Barrillo, senior punter Mark Diedrichsen, and sophomore offensive lineman Sean Henigin. Accorsi has an all-time record of 109-43 as Profs head coach.
Kean University, which posted an 8-3 overall record in 2015, while earning a victory over Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the ECAC Presidents Bowl, was selected to place fifth. The Cougars finished third in the NJAC regular season last year, with a 6-3 mark in league play. Kean returns six all-conference players from its 2015 ECAC Bowl Championship squad, including senior linebacker Robert Meade III, senior defensive back Austin Davis, senior running back Damian Corredor, junior offensive lineman Justin Rodriguez, senior linebacker Stephan Lewis, and senior defensive back David Coleman Jr.
Montclair State University was selected to place sixth. The 2015 Red Hawks posted a 4-6 overall record and tied for seventh in the NJAC standings with a 4-5 mark in league play. MSU returns a trio of all-conference players from its 2015 squad, including senior defensive lineman Joe Falato, senior offensive lineman Dan Giangrande, and junior defensive lineman Vincent Cordasco. The Red Hawks are led by head coach Rick Giancola, who is the winningest active football coach in NCAA Division III. Montclair State has produced an overall mark of 230-110-2 in his 33 seasons at the helm.
The College of New Jersey, which will be led by new head coach Rocky Hager, was selected to finish eighth. Hager enters the season with a career collegiate head coaching record of 111-72-1. The Lions finished 4-5 overall in 2015 and tied for fourth in the NJAC with a 4-4 league record. TCNJ returns three all-conference players from its 2015 squad, including senior defensive lineman Abdelrahman Ragab, senior offensive lineman Hank Harvey, and junior linebacker Troy Domenick.
William Paterson University, led by ninth-year head coach Jerry Flora, was selected to place ninth. Flora has guided the Pioneers to 31 wins during his tenure in Wayne, including an overall mark of 2-8 in 2015. WPU returns a pair of all-conference players from its 2015 squad in senior wide receiver Malcolm Robinson and junior defensive lineman Omar Mahmoud.
The 48th season of NJAC football will kick off on Friday, September 2 when Wesley hosts Delaware Valley and Salisbury hosts Albright in the first two non-conference contests of the year. The first NJAC game of the season will take place just one day later when Christopher Newport hosts Kean in the league-opener.
The winner of the NJAC championship receives the conference’s automatic qualification to the NCAA Division III National Championship Tournament.
2016 NJAC COACHES PRESEASON FOOTBALL POLL RESULTS (first-place votes in parenthesis)
1. Salisbury (3)
2. Wesley (5)
3. Frostburg State (1) (dark horse)
4. Rowan (1)
6. Montclair State
7. Christopher Newport
8. The College of New Jersey
9. William Paterson
10. Southern Virginia
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