FRISCO, Texas – Once again, the Southland Conference’s sports information directors and head coaches aren’t giving the Northwestern State Demons much respect in the preseason poll.
The Demons have been picked in a vote by those groups to finish 10th in the 11-team league.
Last year, NSU was picked to finish eighth. The Demons finished 5-6 overall and 4-5 in the conference, tied for eighth.
NSU, which opens the season Aug. 29 at Tennessee-Martin, received 56 points in the voting. Only Houston Baptist received fewer with 21.
Defending champion Nicholls is the preseason favorite. The colonels received the most possible first-place votes (20) and 200 total points.
Central Arkansas was voted second with 154 total points. Defending co-champion UIW follows closely in third place, earning one first-place votes and 150 points. Sam Houston State collected 146 points to rank fourth in the preseason poll.
Lamar (123) is slated as the fifth-place team, followed by McNeese (114) and Abilene Christian (112), who picked up the final first-place nod. Rounding out the poll is Southeastern Louisiana (71), Stephen F. Austin (63), NSU and Houston Baptist.
Nicholls enters 2019 with a league-high 11 total preseason all-conference picks. Led by senior quarterback Chase Fourcade and senior defensive lineman Sully Laiche, the Colonels grabbed eight of the 28 first-team slots.
Fourcade, the 2018 Southland Conference Player of the Year, enters his final season with the 10th-most career total offense yards in league history (8,990), and Laiche begins his senior campaign as the active FCS leader in career sacks (25.5).
The 2019 season opens Thursday, Aug. 29, with a pair of 6 p.m. kickoffs between Central Arkansas and Western Kentucky in Bowling Green, Ky., and NSU and UT Martin in Martin, Tenn.
At 7 p.m. Thursday, Southeastern Louisiana hosts Jacksonville State and Lamar hosts Bethel (Tenn.). The remaining teams in the league begin their 2019 campaigns on Saturday, Aug. 31.