After a breakout season in 2016, Fairmont State is again regarded as one of the top football teams in the Mountain East Conference.
The Falcons rank third in the conference’s annual preseason poll behind two-time reigning champion Shepherd and Notre Dame. FSU received one first-place vote in the poll.
Fifth-year head coach Jason Woodman said the Falcons had some fun in 2016, but they were disappointed by their early playoff exit, a loss to Indiana (Pa.) in the program’s first appearance in the NCAA Division II tournament.
“We’ve moved on fairly quickly,” said Woodman. “We made sure at the beginning of spring drills that we understood 2016 was over. Luckily, defensively, we bring seven starters back, a couple upperclassmen that have been through a lot, and they’ve done a really good job through the spring of kind of setting the tone and getting us back on track to where we need to be to continue to be successful.”
Both West Virginia Wesleyan and Glenville State appear in the bottom half of that preseason poll. The Bobcats rank seventh, but second-year head coach Del Smith believes the ‘Cats will be a competitive force in the league if they can learn to win close games.
“Twenty games last year in our conference were decided by less than a touchdown – 20 of them – and we were involved six,” said Smith, who finished 4-7 in his first year as head coach. “To say that you have to bring your ‘A-game’ in the fourth quarter in this league would be an understatement, and that was the emphasis of our offseason – mental toughness in the fourth quarter. We were in a lot of those games, and hopefully this year, we can come out on top.”
Glenville State ranks eighth in the preseason poll. First-year head coach Eric Smith said that ranking means very little, and that his staff is working to prepare for the upcoming season.
“They burn the midnight oil,” said Smith. “They’re great recruiters, they’re great people and I’m very, very blessed to have those guys by my side through my first year of coaching football.”
View the full MEC preseason poll below (first-place votes in parentheses):
1. Shepherd (8)
2. Notre Dame (2)
3. Fairmont State (1)
6. West Liberty
7. West Virginia Wesleyan
8. Glenville State
10. West Virginia State