Tuesday, August 12, 2008

UAlbany Football Picked to Win NEC Title, Six Players on Preseason All-Conference Team

Courtesy: UAlbany Sports Information

Somerset, N.J. – According to a preseason poll of Northeast Conference head coaches, the University at Albany has been chosen to defend its conference football championship in 2008. The Great Danes, who became the fifth team in NEC history to go undefeated in league play en route to last year’s title, received five first-place votes. Monmouth placed second in the voting with two first-place votes, while Central Connecticut State was third with one vote to finish first in the standings.

This year’s NEC champion will host the winner of the Pioneer Football League in the third annual Gridiron Classic, an exempted postseason football game that takes place on Saturday, Dec. 6. The Northeast Conference receives an automatic NCAA Division I FCS playoff berth, beginning in 2010. In addition, Duquesne joins the conference as its eighth football-playing member this season.

“Our school and program are respected and that’s a major reason why we were voted to win the conference,” said UAlbany’s Bob Ford, who leads all active FCS head coaches with 225 career victories. “Our offensive line has a strong nucleus returning and we have a great tailback. The defense is solid with some key players back from last year. But I tell the squad every day that we have arrived at a point where you can lose on any weekend in this conference.”

The Great Danes, who won the NEC crown for the third time since joining the league in 1999, finished with an 8-4 overall record. Coach Ford has 46 letterwinners, including 11 starters, back from last year’s championship team. UAlbany has produced seven or more wins six times as an Division I FCS program.


2008 Northeast Conference Preseason Coaches Football Poll

1. UAlbany (5), 2. Monmouth (2), 3. Central Connecticut State (1), 4. Wagner, 5. Duquesne, 6. Robert Morris, 7. Sacred Heart, 8. St. Francis, Pa. ( ) – first-place votes


Somerset, N.J. – The Northeast Conference announced its 2008 preseason all-conference football team. UAlbany had six players voted to the squad by the conference’s head coaches. Nineteen of the 25 student-athletes on the preseason all-star unit earned NEC postseason honors last year.

David McCarty, who was named to the Sports Network FCS All-America team, ran for 1,503 yards, the third-highest single-season total in program history. The junior tailback ranked 10th among the nation’s rushing leaders at 125.3 yards per game. McCarty, who also totaled 1,634 all-purpose yards, gained 100 or more yards on the ground in eight games. He was a second-team All-NEC selection in 2007.

Raphael Nguti, a 6-foot-7, 330-pound right tackle, and Kevin Richards, a 6-foot-2, 270-pound center, were also voted to the league’s preseason team. Nguti, a first-team All-NEC lineman, has made 33 career appearances and may have an opportunity to play at the next level with his size. Richards anchored a line that helped the offense average 208.6 rushing yards and 362.5 total yards per game.

Defensive tackle Tom Pandolf was one of five UAlbany players who were named to last season’s all-conference first team. He accounted for 37 tackles, three sacks and 6.5 hits for a loss. Justin Brancaccio, a junior inside linebacker, was second on the UAlbany defense in tackles with 63 and added two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Dave West, a senior safety, made 60 tackles, including 44 unassisted, and had five pass break-ups and two interceptions. West earned second-team All-NEC recognition last season.

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