LINDALE, Texas — Blinn College was picked by coaches and media as the team to beat in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference during the 2019 season.
The Buccaneers, who lost to Northeastern A&M in the SWJCFC semifinals last season, picked up 53 points (including one first-place vote) in the coaches’ poll.
In the media poll, Blinn got 67 points and garnered six of the nine first-place votes that were cast.
NEO was third in both preseason polls with 47 total points.
The Norse picked up one of eight firsts among the coaches.
NEO was second in the conference during the regular season in 2018, but lost to Kilgore 62-19 in the finals. That was the second straight year the Norse advanced to the title game.
NEO bounced Blinn 35-21 in the semifinal round.
Kilgore was tabbed as the No. 3 team in both polls heading into this season, garnering 50 points and five firsts among the coaches and 60 points (three firsts) by the media.
“I’m not surprised or shocked,” NEO head coach Zach Allen said. “Just like us last year, (defending champion) Kilgore has the target on their back. There is no reason that they shouldn't get that respect going into the season. I think it's a pretty good understanding that Blinn has done a really nice job of building their program the last three years.
“It’s going to be us three right there. It will interesting to see how it shakes out.”
Rounding out the field in the coaches poll, Tyler was third with 35 points, Trinity Valley fourth with 33, Navarro sixth with 30, Cisco seventh with 23 and New Mexico Military eighth with 17.
Following Blinn, Kilgore and the Golden Norse in the media poll were Navarro, 46; Trinity Valley, 40; Tyler, 36; Cisco, 17, and NMMI, 11.
The Norsemen wrapped up their summer session with players last week.
“It went really well,” Allen said. “The freshmen look like they have a chance to get some significant playing time.
There is no reason that we can’t be as good or better at every single spot on both sides of the ball.”
Allen said 130 players are expected for the start of preseason workouts on Aug. 10.
“No one has won a job yet and everybody understands that. It’s exciting to see some of the newcomers, but until you see them in pads, competing against the guys who are established, you don’t know what you’ve got. You can test their will and their fitness and their toughness a little bit through the summer, but this game is still physical.”
NEO kicks off the 2019 campaign Aug. 29 at home with Arkansas Baptist.