Later this week the CIAA will release its preseason poll as determined by the coaches who put together a secret ballot for a predicted order of finish.
These polls, however, don’t mean much of anything other than to create excitement for the coming football season.
It appears that the Northern Division (Bowie State, Virginia State, Virginia Union and Chowan) will be the stronger side in the conference yet again. A look at last year’s standings shows Bowie State, Virginia Union and Chowan all went 4-1 in conference play. Bowie State won the tiebreaker and the division title, then went on to beat Fayetteville State in the championship game.
Another tidbit about the Northern Division schools is Chowan ended its season on a four-game win streak.
However, for the Bulldogs their star quarterback, Amir Hall, has graduated with just about every passing record in the conference.
In the Southern Division it has been Fayetteville State winning the division the last two years with Winston-Salem State right behind the Broncos. Even though the Rams pounded the Broncos in Fayetteville to end the regular-season the Broncos had already won the division title.
The Rams have had plenty of issues this off-season starting with the dismissal of Coach Kienus Boulware just after spring football ended. Robert Massey, who was the popular secondary and special teams coach, will be the interim head coach this season.
Massey is not unfamiliar with being a head coach having guided Shaw a few years ago. He’s more than capable of guiding the Rams to the Southern Division title.
The luxury the Rams have is an experienced secondary and a sophomore quarterback, Dominique Graves, who was thrown into the fire last season as a freshman. Graves went 4-1 as a starter and showed plenty of poise. The good news is he’s also added about 20 pounds of muscle.
The question marks around the Rams will be at offensive and defensive line. If the offensive line can protect Graves and there are enough running backs to help replace Kerrion Moore then it’s a good bet the Rams can get back to the CIAA championship game.
Entering my 23rd year of covering WSSU athletics for the Journal, here is my preseason poll.
Elizabeth City State
And in the CIAA championship game in Salem, Va. in November I’ll go with Virginia Union beating WSSU 44-43 in triple overtime.