By Nick Porter
BUENA VISTA, Va. — The New Jersey Athletic Conference today announced the 2017 Preseason Coaches' Poll, where Southern Virginia University was picked for an eighth-place finish, the highest preseason ranking since joining the NJAC in 2014.
"Being picked eighth this season means that our players are putting in the work and getting the attention of the conference," second-year head football coach Joe DuPaix commented. "It's great for me to see that our guys want to improve and are putting in the effort."
Last year, the Knights finished 2-8, winning the season-opener against Earlham before notching a conference win over William Paterson. The Knights nearly edged The College of New Jersey, but fell 28-25 in a quadruple-overtime loss.
In the poll, Southern Virginia is picked to finish above both William Paterson and The College of New Jersey. Clearly, expectations in the conference are changing.
"Even with expectations changing in the conference, my expectations don't change," DuPaix said. "My only expectation is that we get better every single day. With that mentality and attitude, we will win more games through both individual and collective improvement."
One of the biggest differences that will be visible on the field this year is the amount of returning players.
"It will be great to have the unity and understanding from veteran players who can carry over the culture from last season," said DuPaix.
Returning for the Knights this season include last year's VaSID Defensive Rookie of the Year and NJAC Defensive Rookie of the Year Neil Davis, NJAC Co-Offensive Rookie of the Year Ty Jones. Fifteen of last year's starters are also returning.
"I'm excited about our schedule! This year we are home heavy in the first part of the season and will have to be road warriors after that," DuPaix concluded. "We have a very competitive schedule with a lot of good teams. We need to be ready."
The Knights kickoff at home under the lights against Christopher Newport University on September 2 at 7 p.m.
1. Wesley (8 first-place votes)
2. Frostburg State (2)
5. Kean (dark horse)
6. Christopher Newport
7. Montclair State
8. Southern Virginia
9. William Paterson
10. The College of NJ