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NEC Poll Picks UA Football to win

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Somerset, NJ -- According to a preseason poll of Northeast Conference (NEC) head coaches, Albany and Central Connecticut State are favored to win the 2006 NEC Football Championship. Albany, which tied for third place in the league last season, received four first place votes. Central Connecticut State earned two first place nods after capturing back-to-back conference titles in 2004 and 2005. This year’s poll saw four teams claim first place votes, including a single selection for Monmouth, and for the first time in league history, Saint Francis (PA) collects a lone vote. Stony Brook, which shared the 2005 NEC Championship with CCSU, was picked third, followed by Monmouth in fourth, Saint Francis (PA) in fifth, Wagner in sixth and Robert Morris and Sacred Heart tied for seventh.



This year’s NEC champion will meet the winner of the Pioneer Football League (PFL) in the inaugural Gridon Classic, an exempted postseason football game that takes place on Saturday, November 18. The two-year agreement calls for the NEC champion to serve as host in 2006. The PFL winner will host the 2007 event.


2006 Northeast Conference


Preseason Coaches Poll


1. Albany (4)

Central Connecticut State (2)

3. Stony Brook

4. Monmouth (1)

5. Saint Francis (PA) (1)

6. Wagner

7. Robert Morris

Sacred Heart


First place votes in parentheses


Albany (5-6, 4-3 NEC) faced several obstacles in the 2005 season with a young squad, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. With assistance from a defense that allowed a league-low 17.6 ppg, Albany ended the year on a roll, winning five of its last six contests. Bob Ford, entering his 38th year as a collegiate head coach, returns 17 starters from last season, including four offensive linemen. As in years past, Albany will rely on its running game. The Great Danes averaged 180 yards on the ground against NEC foes in 2005, led by first team all-NEC senior tackle Jacob Anderson (West Seneca, NY/West Seneca West) and second team all-NEC junior guard Sam Pagano (Schenectady, NY/Colonie Central). Senior Brett Hall (Lake Bluff, IL/Lake Forest) has emerged as the team’s starting quarterback after completing nearly 50 percent of his passes last season in a run-first attack. Sophomore Daniel Bocanegra (Daly City, CA/Junipero Serra) is a highly capable backup at several positions, including quarterback, receiver and kick returner. Bocanegra threw for more than 400 yards and three touchdowns, while grabbing three receptions for 47 yards and returning a pair of kickoffs. At tailback, senior Marcus Allen (Fayetteville, NC/Seventy-First) and junior Omar Johnson (Edgewater Park, NY/Burlington City) should share playing time. Allen finished 2005 fifth in the league in rushing with 594 yards, while Johnson gained 385 yards and scored a team-best nine touchdowns. Allen is also an effective receiver, snaring 14 balls a year ago. Clearing the way for Allen and Johnson once again will be junior fullback Dan Beigel (Clinton, NY/Clinton Central), who rushed for two touchdowns and caught two more out of the backfield last season. The Great Danes’ receiver corps is spearheaded by junior wideout Irani DeAranjo (Queens, NY/Choate-Rosemary Prep (CT)), who returns as the team’s leading pass-catcher with 34 receptions for 368 yards in 2005. Junior flanker Mike Wall (Syracuse, NY/Slovay) and junior tight ends Wayne Carrabus (Bellport, NY/Bellport) and Ross Jatkola (South Yarmouth, MA/Dennis-Yarmouth) will be asked to increase their output from a year ago. As Albany’s offense looks to reach its potential, the Great Danes defense is certainly at full strength. Led by NEC all-star linebacker Colin Disch (North Plainfield, NJ/North Plainfield), the team’s defensive unit led the conference in scoring defense, pass defense, total defense and redzone defense. Disch, a junior all-America candidate, was named NEC Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore after garnering NEC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2004. He collected 112 tackles in 2005, second-best in the NEC, while adding 15 tackles-for-loss and 4.5 sacks. Junior Dan Barnes (Kingston, NY/Kingston) should fill the other inside linebacker slot beside Disch. Barnes posted 38 stops a season ago. On the outside, junior Trevor DuPont (Victor, NY/Victor Central) and sophomore Dave Nicomini (Newton, NJ/Kittatinny Regional) will play key roles on the stingy defense. DuPoint, a junior, had 31 tackles and a pair of tackles-for-loss last season, while Nicomini was fourth on the squad with 55 tackles, including 21 solo and 5.5 tackles-for-loss. First team all-NEC selection Andre Coleman (Buffalo, NY/Burgard) and second teamer Michael Dungey (Rochester, NY/Irondequoit) anchor a veteran defensive line for the Great Danes. Coleman, a senior, collected 32 tackles, including nine tackles-for-loss and 4.5 sacks, while Dungey, a junior, corralled 39 would-be runners, 6.5 stops-for-loss and a trio of sacks. Albany also returns two defensive backs from a strong pass defense unit - seniors Ryan Chrobak (Clinton, NY/Clinton Central) and Eric Neugebauer (Sayville, NY/Sayville). Chrobak, a three-year starter, posted 47 tackles, two sacks, one interception and five pass breakups, while Neugebauer added 45 stops and a team-best two picks.

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