The 2013 season brings a major change to the Pioneer Football League.
Two teams (Mercer and Stetson) will be in their first season of PFL play this season, but the one thing all the coaches couldn’t stop mentioning was the addition of an automatic bid to the FCS playoffs for the PFL champion.
Numerous coaches said the automatic berth is “a great boost for recruiting.”
“We were in the (Division III) playoffs quite often,” UD coach Rick Chamberlin said. “The people in Dayton got accustomed to that. Now, we went to the FCS and the Pioneer Football League and have that opportunity through the league to be able to get into the playoffs. That’s something people in the Dayton community were missing. So now they have this opportunity again, a more legitimate opportunity, it’s really exciting for the city of Dayton. That just means now for us in our Dayton football program, it’s one of those expectations placed upon our program again.”
During a 12-year span starting in 1980, Dayton won two national championships (1980, 1989) and was national runner-up three times (1981, 1987, 1991) in D-III.
That tradition has been the measuring stick for recent Dayton teams, and players and coaches will say that 6-5 records during the past two seasons are not good years.
Offensively, UD will have to figure out who will be calling the shots under center as senior quarterback Will Bardo, the starter for the past two seasons, has been battling with redshirt sophomore Luke Johnson for the starting job.
Dayton does a have solid defensive unit returning that finished in the top three of nearly every defensive statistic in the PFL. On Wednesday, senior defensive end Pat Dowd, redshirt senior linebacker Colin Monnier and redshirt senior cornerback Kyle Sebetic were the only Dayton players named to the All-PFL preseason team.
“With those three guys, they’re proven players and you know what they’re going to do each and every week because of their experience and their talent,” Chamberlin said.
Dayton was picked to finish fifth in the annual coaches’ poll and the Flyers will open the season on the road against a scholarship program — Youngstown State — on Aug. 29.