The Northeast Conference released their 2010 Preseason Coaches Poll on Wednesday afternoon with the Sacred Heart Pioneers picked to finish eighth in the nine team league. SHU junior defensive end Justin Embler (Cinnaminson, NJ) was named to the 2010 Preseason All-NEC team.
The NEC, opening its 15th season on the gridiron, for the first time in league history will see its champion earn the league's newly aquired automatic berth into the NCAA FCS Playoffs. The 2010 season gets underway on September 3rd.
Embler stepped into a starting role along the SHU defensive line last fall and turned in a break-out season finishing third on the team in total tackles. The junior defensive end finished the year with 53 tackles and led the team with four sacks and 7.5 tackles for a loss in 2009.
The defending champion Central Connecticut State Blue Devils were tabbed as this season's favorite, ending a run of four-straight season's that the University at Albany toped the annual poll. The Blue Devils received four first place votes as they sit atop the preseason rankings for the first time in their program's history.
Robert Morris garnered three first place votes to finish second in the preseason poll which was announced in addition to a 25-member preseason all-conference team by the league office during a media teleconference on Wednesday morning. The Great Danes, with one first place vote, was third among the coaches picks with Wagner claiming the last first place vote to finish fourth in the rankings. Monmouth holds down the fifth spot with Bryant sixth, Duquesne seventh, the Pioneers eighth and Saint Francis (PA) ninth to round out this year's poll.
The Pioneers will open up their 2010 preseason camp this Monday when they take part in their first practice. The season kicks-off on Friday, September 3rd when SHU heads to Marist for a 7:00 pm start. The Robert Morris Colonials come calling in Week Two in the 2010 home opener on Campus Field.