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Fall Football Preview: Dukes Ready To Defend Title, Spiders and Tribe Ready To Chase Champs

A look ahead at the upcoming college football season and some analysis of the Dukes, Spiders, and Tribe.

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Seven months ago when the clock struck triple zeros at Toyota Stadium, James Madison University stood atop the Football Championship Subdivision as National Champions after a 28-14 victory over Youngstown State in the FCS National Title Game. The victory gave the Dukes their second national championship in football (2004 was the first) and brought the state of Virginia its first college football championship since Richmond won it all in 2008.

Now JMU will embark on the daunting quest to defend its title. Fortunately the Dukes return 14 of 22 starters from its championship roster, enough for the voters in the Coaches Poll to tag them with the #1 ranking to start the year. On tap for JMU in week one on September 2nd is a trip to FBS level East Carolina so we will know just how good this roster is right out of the gate. The Dukes will be led by senior QB Bryan Schor, senior TE Jonathan Kloosterman and senior lineman Aaron Stinnie on offense with senior lineman Andrew Ankrah and senior safety Raven Greene heading up the defense.

After upsetting 7th ranked North Dakota in the FCS Playoffs, the Richmond Spiders 2016 season came to a crashing halt after a 38-0 defeat at #2 Eastern Washington. By all means it was still a successful season for Richmond as they finished 10-4 overall, tied for 4th in the competitive Colonial Athletic Association with a 5-3 mark and notched an opening week upset of FBS member UVA in Charlottesville.

Richmond, who opens the year ranked #7 in the FCS Coaches poll, brings back 2016 CAA Preseason Player of the Year Kyle Lauletta at QB along with talented running back Deontez Thompson to anchor the offense. Much like JMU, the Spiders will throw themselves in the fire right away when the travel to FCS power Sam Houston State, who will begin the season ranked #3 in the FCS Coaches Poll, on August 27th.

William and Mary will look to bounce back from a disappointing 2016 campaign. The Tribe began the year ranked in the Coaches Poll, but ultimately finished nowhere near the playoffs with 5-6 overall mark and 3-5 in league play. Up first for William and Mary is a trip to Charlottesville to play UVA on September 2nd. While the Tribe don’t have the starting QB position nailed down yet (reportedly five players are in the mix), they will bring back senior offensive players WR Devonte Dedmon and lineman Chris Durant to provide veteran leadership.

With JMU and Richmond in contention for a National Title once again and the Tribe poised to rebound, it appears Virginia will be well represented when the playoffs roll around in December.

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