Montclair, NJ (8/10/11) – The Montclair State football team was selected as the preseason favorite as the New Jersey Athletic Conference unveiled its 2011 Coaches Poll on Wednesday. The Red Hawks, who finished 10-2 last season and earned a share of the conference title, topped the poll receiving five of the 10 first-place votes from the league coaches.
MSU was picked ahead of Cortland, who finished with four first-place votes and Rowan (one first-place vote) as both teams finished tied for the league crown last season.
Montclair, which has gone 20-4 over the past two seasons, including a 17-1 mark in NJAC games, finished 8-1 in the NJAC in 2010 with the lone loss coming at the hands of Cortland in a 10-9 defeat. The Red Hawks did rebound and won the final two regular-season games earning a share of the title, their 19th overall NJAC championship. MSU also earned a berth in the NCAA Division III Playoffs and advanced to the second round defeating Hampden-Sydney before falling to Wesley.
Under the direction of 29th-year head coach Rick Giancola, MSU has posted a 201-89-2 overall record. Giancola, who earned NJAC Coach of the Year honors from his peers last season, will field a 2011 squad which returns three of the major 2010 NJAC award winners, including the league Co-Offensive Player of the Year in senior quarterback Tom Fischer (Livingston, NJ / Livingston), the NJAC Special Teams Player of the Year in senior wide receiver and punt returner Dan Keegan (Fairfield, NJ / West Essex), and the conference Defensive Rookie of the Year in sophomore linebacker Dan Avento (Hillsdale, NJ / Pascack Hills).
In addition, the Red Hawks return an additional six all-conference players from its 2010 NJAC tri-champion squad, including senior punter Joe Liscio (Little Falls, NJ / Passaic Valley), senior wide receiver Byron Lewin (Carteret, NJ / Carteret), senior offensive lineman Dan Aguilar (Bell Mead, NJ / Montgomery), senior offensive lineman Jeff Angstadt (Clinton, NJ / Voorhees), senior defensive lineman Alex Iachetta (Spring Lake Heights, NJ / Manasquan), and sophomore defensive lineman Bobby Skinner (Staten Island, NY / New Dorp).
Kean University, which was selected as the league’s “Dark Horse” pick was selected fourth followed by The College of New Jersey, College at Brockport, William Paterson, Buffalo State, Morrisville State and Western Connecticut.
Montclair State has already been selected to several preseason national polls, including No. 12 by D3Football.com and 10th in The Sporting News poll.
The Red Hawks open up their 2011 schedule on Saturday, September 10 when they host the Seahawks of Salve Regina at Sprague Field beginning at Noon. The following week, MSU begins conference play at Morrisville State.