CT Post Preview (Jim Fuller)
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Sacred Heart football team has been picked second in the Northeast Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll, as announced Wednesday morning at the fifth annual NEC Social Media Day at Metlife Stadium. In addition, Pioneer senior defensive end Chris Agyemang and fifth-year running back Jordan Meachum were both selected to the 2019 Preseason All-NEC Team.
All nine NEC programs, including two new members in LIU and Merrimack, gathered at the home of the NFL's New York Giants and Jets for the conference's annual event broadcast live on ESPN3 and NEC Front Row. The broadcast featured interviews from coaching staff members and student-athletes from each team. The Pioneers were represented by assistant coach/offensive coordinator Matt Gardner, Agyemang and Meachum, plus Executive Director of Athletics Bobby Valentine and Deputy Director of Athletics, External Operations Charlie Dowd.
Defending NEC Champion Duquesne earned the top spot in the 2019 Preseason Poll, earning seven of the eight first place votes. SHU was selected second in the poll and received the lone other first place vote. Rounding out the poll in third through eighth place is CCSU, Wagner, Bryant, Saint Francis U, Robert Morris and Long Island.
After being picked sixth in last year's NEC Preseason Poll, SHU football surprised many with a successful 7-4 (5-1 NEC) campaign in which the Pioneers clinched its fourth NEC title in program history. Splitting the NEC's regular season title with Duquesne, the co-championship is the Pioneers' third in the last six seasons. The seven-win season represented the most wins in a season for SHU since 2014.
The NEC also announced its 27-member Preseason All-Conference team, on which Agyemang and Meachum each earned a spot.
Agyemang enjoyed a breakout 2018 season in which the then-junior earned Division I All-New England Team and All-NEC First Team honors. He ranked fourth in the NEC with seven total sacks as well as 15.5 tackles for loss while appearing in all 11 games. Agyemang ranked second on the team with 55 total tackles and added in a forced fumble and fumble recovered. An imposing force all season, he racked up three games with more than one sack in 2018 and produced a career-high nine total tackles in a road win at Wagner on Sept. 22.
A Second Team All-NEC selection in 2018, Meachum earned his first career all-conference honor last season after rushing for 1,396 yards, the second-highest single-season total in school history. He averaged 127.3 yards per game, which was good enough for third in the NEC and sixth in all of FCS. He also sat fourth in all-purpose yards per game in the NEC with 148.5 and rushed for a school record 318 yards and 13.8 yards per career in a 49-26 home win over Bryant on Oct. 27.
Finally, the NEC released its nine-game ESPN3 broadcast schedule for the upcoming 2019 season. SHU sees a pair of prominent home games featured in the slate as the Pioneers' home games against CCSU (Oct. 5 – 2 PM) and defending champion Duquesne (Oct. 19 – 12 PM) will be broadcasted on ESPN3. The matchup with the Blue Devils coincides with the Pioneers' Homecoming weekend while the showdown with the Dukes comes during Family Weekend on campus.
Both season and single-game tickets are on sale now for the upcoming 2019 season. SHU will host five games at Campus Field including the home opener on Sept. 7 against Bucknell. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.