BRIDGEPORT – Notre Dame College has been picked to repeat as Mountain East Conference football champions after a vote conducted by the league’s coaches. Notre Dame received 100 points and had 10 first-place votes.
The Falcons are coming off a historic season that included an undefeated regular season (11-0) and its first MEC championship and a run to the semifinals in the NCAA Playoffs.
NDC brings back several key players from last year’s squad including running back Jaleel McLaughlin, who set an NCAA record for rushing yards as a freshman with 2,421 yards. On the other side of the ball, senior defensive end Sha’Haun Williams returns after coming up with 20 sacks last year for the Falcons.
Fairmont State was picked to finish second in the poll with 91 points and had the remaining first-place vote.
The Falcons have 17 starters returning to the lineup this season, including quarterback Takwan Crews-Naylor and nine other starters on offense.
West Virginia State was third in the preseason poll – its highest preseason ranking in league history – with 75 points. Quarterback Austin Hensley, who was injured in the first game of the season last year, is back to help lead the Yellow Jackets.
The University of Charleston was selected fourth with 74 points.
The Golden Eagles have eight offensive starters returning, but will have to fill several key spots on defense.
Urbana was slotted fifth in the poll with 64 points, followed by West Liberty (52), Glenville State and Concord (37). First-year member Frostburg State, which made the NCAA Division III Playoffs in each of the last two seasons, is picked ninth (26 points), with West Virginia Wesleyan (23) and Wheeling (13) rounding out the poll.
Wheeling is in its first season of varsity football after playing a club season last year.
The 2019 season begins with three games on Thursday, Sept. 5: Fairmont State at Charleston, West Virginia State at Frostburg State, and Alderson Broaddus at Glenville State.
The first week of the regular season concludes on Saturday, Sept. 7, with West Liberty at Wheeling, Urbana at West Virginia Wesleyan and Concord at Notre Dame.
1. Notre Dame (10) — 100
2. Fairmont State (1) — 91
3. W.Va. State — 75
4. Charleston — 74
5. Urbana — 64
6. West Liberty — 52
7. Glenville State — 50
8. Concord — 37
9. Frostburg State — 26
10. W.Va. Wesleyan — 23
11. Wheeling — 13