DUQUESNE DEEMED 'TEAM TO BEAT' AT
East Rutherford, NJ - The all-league starting quarterback and All-American running back are back in the fold, pushing Duquesne to the top of the Northeast Conference preseason coaches’ poll. Returning plenty of firepower from the group that delivered the program’s first-ever FCS playoffs win last November, the Dukes unanimously captured the title of preseason favorite. Defending NEC co-champion Sacred Heart, which shared the 2018 conference crown with Duquesne, finished as the runner-up in the annual survey of the league’s head coaches. Central Connecticut, which finished the 2018 season one win shy of a second straight NEC title, took third in the poll. Wagner jumped into the No. 4 spot followed by Bryant in fifth place. Keystone State rivals Saint Francis and Robert Morris took sixth and seventh, respectively. Set for its first-ever season of Division I FCS competition, Long Island University rounded out the preseason poll results in eighth place. The NEC unveiled the preseason predicted order-of-finish, along with a 27-member preseason all-conference team, during the fifth annual #NECFB Social Media Day at MetLife Stadium. In addition to the eight teams that will vie for the 2019 NEC crown, Merrimack, the league’s newest core member, was also present for the preseason event. On July 1, Merrimack, which is moving up from Division II, began the NCAA-mandated, four-year DI reclassification process. The Warriors, who will be eligible for FCS postseason play beginning in 2023, will face four of their NEC peers on the field this fall.