New Jersey Athletic Conference Pre-Season Coaches Poll Released
official release from Terry Small - NJAC Commissioner
PITMAN, NJ (Aug. 8) — After claiming a victory in the 2011 ECAC Southeast Bowl en route to a 9-2 overall record, SUNY Cortland has been selected as the 2012 preseason football favorite in the New Jersey Athletic Conference. The Red Dragons will be seeking their third conference title since 2007.
Cortland was selected to finish first on five-of-the-nine ballots cast by the league's head coaches. After posting a 7-2 NJAC mark to finish in a tie for second place in 2011, the Red Dragons earned a bid to the ECAC Southeast Bowl, defeating Albright College, 14-0.
Under the direction of 16th-year head coach Dan MacNeill, Cortland has posted a 99-54 record, including shares of the NJAC championship in 2007 and 2010, and the outright conference crown in 2008. MacNeill's squad will return four players from its 2011 ECAC Southeast Bowl Championship squad, including junior wide receiver John Babin, senior defensive lineman Vaughn Labor, senior offensive lineman Randy Bloom, and senior defensive back Pete Furey. In addition, the Red Dragons will return the 2010 NJAC Co-Offensive Player of the Year in senior running back Justin Autera, who missed the majority of the 2011 season due to injury. Montclair State University, which finished 8-2 overall while tying for second place in the 2011 NJAC conference race with a 7-2 league mark, was selected to place second and received one first place vote. The Red Hawks claimed a share of the NJAC Championship in 2010, after winning the league outright in 2009. Under the leadership of 30th-year head coach Rick Giancola, Montclair has posted a 209-91-2 overall record. MSU returns a pair of all-conference players from its 2011 NJAC runner-up squad, including junior linebacker
Dan Avento and senior offensive lineman Doug Pannone.
The defending NJAC Champion Kean University Cougars were selected to place third and received one first
place vote. Kean captured its third conference title in program history with an 8-1 mark in conference play en
route to a 10-2 overall record. The 2011 Cougars claimed the program's first NCAA Tournament victory with a
34-10 first round win over Christopher Newport University, before falling in the NCAA second round at Salisbury University, 49-47 in three overtimes. Led by the 2011 NJAC Coach of the Year in Dan Garrett, Kean has accumulated a 43-22 overall mark during his six seasons in Union. The defending NJAC Champions return five all-conference players from their 2011 NCAA squad, including senior wide receiver T.J. Denehy, senior defensive back Chris VanFechtmann, senior defensive back Brett Yajcaji, senior linebacker Brad Higgins, and the 2011 NJAC Defensive Rookie of the Year in sophomore defensive lineman Matt Clerk.
Rowan University, which claimed a share of the 2010 NJAC crown, was selected to place fourth and received
two first place votes. The 2011 Profs finished 5-5 overall, including a fifth place finish in the conference with a
5-4 league mark. Rowan returns five all-conference players from its 2011 squad, including senior defensive lineman Steve Williams, junior quarterback Louie Bianchini, senior offensive lineman Rob Barrett, senior linebacker Patrick Ruley, and the 2011 NJAC Offensive Rookie of the Year in sophomore wide receiver Eddie Eisenhart.
The coaches' dark horse selection, The College of New Jersey was selected to place fifth. Led by 36th-year head coach Eric Hamilton, the Lions have accumulated an overall mark of 208-138-6 during his leadership. Hamilton's tenure at TCNJ currently ranks third in terms of most consecutive seasons coached at an NJAC institution, trailing only Kean and Rowan men's soccer coaches Tony Ochrimenko and Dan Gilmore, each of whom is entering his 37th season this Fall. The Lions return three all-conference players from a squad which finished 7-3 overall and fourth in the conference with a 6-3 league mark, including junior linebacker Nick Bricker, senior linebacker Greg Burns, and senior offensive lineman Thomas Hoppe.
William Paterson University, which finished 4-6 overall in 2011, was selected to place sixth. Led by fifth-year
head coach Jerry Flora, the Pioneers have produced a 17-23 overall record during his tenure. Flora's squad will return five all-league performers from 2011, including senior running back Dawys German, junior punter Cory Mundt, sophomore offensive lineman Andrew Donnell, sophomore linebacker John Garbowski, and sophomore kicker Robert Sinegra.
The College at Brockport, led by 17th-year head coach Rocco Salomone, was selected to place seventh. Under Salomone, the Golden Eagles have produced a mark of 97-76-1, including a record of 3-7 in 2011. Brockport returns a trio of all-conference players from its 2011 squad, including senior wide receiver Jordan Hogan, junior offensive lineman Bruce Doyle, and junior defensive back Ross Ragonessi.
Morrisville State College, under the leadership of seventh-year head coach Terry Dow, was selected to place
eighth. The Mustangs have produced a 10-49 overall record since transitioning to NCAA Division III, including
a mark of 1-9 in 2011. Morrisville returns a pair of all-league performers in junior offensive lineman Nate Ryan,
and junior defensive back Jeremy Stewart.
Western Connecticut State University, under the guidance of new head coach Joe Loth, was selected to place
ninth. Loth, who accumulated a 56-64 overall collegiate coaching record during stints at both Kean University
and Otterbein University, inherits a Colonials squad which finished 0-10 overall in 2011. Western Connecticut
returns one all-league player from 2011 in senior defensive lineman Michael Farnsworth.
The 44th season of NJAC football will kickoff on Friday, August 31 when TCNJ hosts Ursinus in the first nonconference contest of the year. One day later, seven NJAC teams will face seven teams from the Middle Atlantic Conference in the 2011 MAC-NJAC Challenge, a scheduling alliance between the conferences pitting opponents from both leagues against each other for two consecutive seasons. The 2011 MAC-NJAC Challenge will conclude one week later with TCNJ traveling to face FDU-Florham on September 7.
SUNY CORTLAND SELECTED AS NJAC FOOTBALL FAVORITE
IN PRESEASON POLL OF LEAGUE HEAD COACHES
(first-place votes in parenthesis)
1. Cortland (5)
2. Montclair State (1)
3. Kean (1)
4. Rowan (2)
5. TCNJ (dark horse)
6. William Paterson
7. The College at Brockport
8. Morrisville State
9. Western Connecticut