LAKE CHARLES - McNeese State and Stephen F. Austin are again the Southland Conference favorites entering the 2011 football season.
That’s the result of the preseason polls announced by the league’s coaches and sports information directors at the league’s annual football media day at the L’Auberge du Lac Resort.
McNeese State is the coaches’ No. 1 pick, receiving three of a possible eight first-place votes and 44 points to edge defending champion Stephen F. Austin by one point. The rolls are reversed in the SID poll, with the Lumberjacks edging McNeese by one point.
Northwestern State is fifth, Nicholls State sixth and Southeastern Louisiana seventh in the coaches’ rankings. Northwestern is fourth in the SID poll, with Nicholls and SLU sixth and seventh.
McNeese, which hasn’t finished lower than second in the league since Matt Viator became head coach in 2006, re-turns 10 starters and 48 letter-men.
SFA has won the league title for two straight years for the first time in the school’s history.
The Lumberjacks, who return nine of 11 starters on offense, also top the preseason all-conference team announced at media day with a total of 12 honorees.
Sam Houston State is next with 11 honorees, including five first-team members, followed by Central Arkansas with 10, McNeese State with eight, Northwestern State six, Nicholls State three and Southeastern Louisiana with two.