HERO Sports welcomes you to "Two-a-Days", where we will preview every single one of the 125 FCS programs, with two being released each day from June 18 to August 18 (with the final day having three in one day). Today we give you … Sacred Heart.
Sacred Heart (4-7 IN 2017)
Northeast Conference (Sacred Heart was T-5th in 2017)
COACH: Mark Nofri – 7th year (37-32)
2017 OFFENSE: 25.2 ppg (56th in FCS)
2017 DEFENSE: 26.8 ppg (69th in FCS)
SUM IT UP: If there was an award for graduating the most players from a single team in FCS Football, Sacred Heart might be in the running to win it. The Pioneers will be in complete rebuild mode in 2018, with many of their offensive playmakers and most of their defensive starters from 2017 gone. The fact that they were picked sixth at NEC Media Day last week reflects this reality pretty accurately. Sacred Heart has only had one losing season (last year) in the past five years, so we know the Pioneers know how to build a decent program. However, with the massive losses sustained from '17 to '18, it'll be hard for this team to be back in the black before the 2019 season.
BEST-CASE SCENARIO: The Duke-to-O'Neill connection trips up a couple of better teams, and SHU holds stead at 4-7. Short of dramatic and improbable player development, SHU is going to sit near the bottom of the NEC this season as it develops a new cast of characters. That doesn't mean it can't dig out an extra win here or there, though, and games with Wagner and Saint Francis look vaguely winnable. The good news for Sacred Heart? The Pioneers stand a great chance to win the season opener, which should prove to be a warm home game on Sept. 1 against Lafayette. Hosting fellow NEC rebuild candidate Robert Morris looks like a promising matchup as well.
TOP RETURNEE: QB Kevin Duke (5th Year Senior, 2,596 Passing Yards and 15 Passing TD's in '17).
THE NEXT FIVE: WR Andrew O'Neill (5th Year Senior, 690 Receiving Yards in '17); OL Knikeem Lewis (Returning Lineman); OL Andrew Starr (Returning Lineman); LB Kevin Sears (40 Tackles in '17, Most of Any Returning Player); RB Jordan Meachum (551 Yards from Scrimmage in '17).
TOP NEWCOMER: LB Marquis Bazemore (JuCo Transfer, ASA College).
DID YOU KNOW?: One of Sacred Heart's newest residence halls is named Bergoglio Hall, which is named after Pope Francis I. (His given name is Jorge Bergoglio.) The dorm is a high-tech building that includes a CrossFit facility and a video game classroom for students majoring in Video Game Design & Development..
THE QUOTE: “Obviously, nobody’s going to pick you to finish in the top half of the league coming off a 4-7 season and losing a lot of kids to graduation… Hopefully there’s some motivation. Hopefully, the younger kids see that they’ve got to earn their respect. Nobody’s going to give it to them." -Head Coach Mark Nofri, to the Connecticut Post, after SHU was picked sixth at NEC Media Day.
SOCIAL MEDIA SPOTLIGHT
THE HASHTAG: #WeAreSHU
FOOTBALL TWITTER: @SHU__Football
@espn has released its #NECFB schedule on ESPN3 and @SHU__Football will have their mental health game against @BryantUFootball televised!! Going to be a great season and a great weekend to #SHUtdownthestigma #WeAreSHU #SHUFootball pic.twitter.com/YEyHkLCnxB
— HeartToHeart (@SHUHeartToHeart) August 2, 2018