WARWICK, R.I. -- The University of New Hampshire football team will enter the 2005 season tied as a favorite to win the North Division of the Atlantic 10 Football Conference along with long-time rival Massachusetts, according to the Atlantic 10 preseason poll. The poll was announced Wednesday afternoon at the annual Atlantic 10 Football Media Day held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick, R.I.
UNH, which won the North Division title in 2004, checked in with 14 first-place votes in a poll of coaches and selected media. Only 2004 national champion James Madison had more first-place votes than the Wildcats with 16. The Dukes were picked as the favorite to win the South Division of the Atlantic 10.
Three UNH players were also named to the Atlantic 10 preseason all-conference squad following their outstanding 2004 campaigns.
Named to the team were junior wide receiver David Ball (Orange, Vt.) and senior tight end Jon Williams (Rochester, N.Y.), both of whom were also named preseason All-Americans, along with sophomore quarterback Ricky Santos (Bellingham, Mass.). Santos completed the 2004 season as one of 16 finalists for the Walter Payton Award and was selected the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year.
UNH opens the 2005 season on the road Sept. 3 against California-Davis. The home opener for the Wildcats is Sept. 24 (12 p.m.) vs. intrastate rival Dartmouth.
Here's a look at this year's Atlantic 10 Preseason Poll (first-place votes in parentheses):
1. New Hampshire (14)
3. Hofstra (4)
6. Rhode Island
1. James Madison (16)
2. Delaware (6)
3. William & Mary (6)
4. Villanova (2)