Monday, June 1, 2009

Danes picked to defend conference title on gridiron

While the calendar just switched to June, the University at Albany is starting to think about football season.

That's because the Great Danes were selected to win their third consecutive Northeast Conference title on Monday.

Here's the release from UAlbany.

Albany , N.Y. – After putting together its most celebrated season at the NCAA Division I FCS level, UAlbany has been picked to win its third consecutive Northeast Conference football championship by Sporting News Yearbook .

In 2008, the Great Danes claimed the conference title for the second year in a row and became the first NEC program to be crowned Gridiron Classic champions.

Head coach Bob Ford, the active Division I FCS leader with 234 career victories, has 14 starters returning from last year’s 9-3 squad.

All-America tailback David McCarty (at left) leads an offensive unit that averaged more than 26 points and 363 yards.

McCarty, who was named to the Sports Network FCS All-America team for the second straight season, is the Sporting News Yearbook preseason NEC offensive player of the year.

He rushed for a school-record 1,852 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior. McCarty, the Gridiron Classic MVP, was second among the NCAA rushing leaders and tied for fourth in all-purpose yards (184.0 ypg).

The Great Danes were dominant at times on defense and allowed 18.2 points and 119.1 rushing yards overall.

All-ECAC and All-NEC safety Dave Casale (at right) recorded the most interceptions by a UAlbany defender since 1990 with seven, plus was second in tackles (74). Justin Brancaccio, a first-team all-conference inside linebacker, led the team with 91 tackles. The Great Danes captured their fourth conference championship last year and set the program's FCS record for single-season wins. UAlbany won the NEC title outright in 2002 and 2007 and shared the crown in 2003.

Meanwhile Casale, a Troy native, has been selected to the Consensus Draft Services preseason FCS All-America second team, while McCarty, a La Salle graduate, Brancaccio and Kevin Richards were chosen in the honorable mention category.

UAlbany begins the season on Saturday, Sept. 5 at Georgia Southern.

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