Football Picked Fourth in PFL South By League Coaches

Aug. 12, 2003

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jacksonville University has been picked to finish fourth in the Pioneer Football League South Division in the 2003 PFL Preseason Coaches' Poll, which was released by the league office today. JU, which has just 12 seniors and more than 60 freshman on the roster, returns 10 starters from last year's young squad, which finished the season 3-7. Defending PFL South champion Morehead State (9-3) was picked to win the South once again, while No. 1 Dayton (11-1), which won its second-straight PFL Championship last season, was chosen as the preseason favorite for the North Division.

"Our goal is to reclaim the PFL South title," said head coach Steve Gilbert, who has directed the Dolphin program since its inception in 1997. "The division is up for grabs, but we have proven that we can beat anyone on our schedule." Last season, the Dolphins defeated three scholarship programs, but went 0-3 in league play. This year, two of JU's three PFL South games are at home. "We need to win early in the season to gain confidence," said Gilbert. "We also need to rely on our seniors, who have experienced winning a championship, to help bring our young team together."

The Dolphins return five starters on offense, including All-PFL quarterback Mike Sturgill (Vero Beach, Fla.) and All-PFL running back Chad Davis (Tallahassee, Fla.). Sturgill threw for a school-record 1,876 yards and 11 touchdowns as a freshman, while Davis accounted for a team-best 116.4 all-purpose yards per game. JU also returns preseason All-Americans Jimmy Willman (Oacla, Fla.) at tight end and Matt Meyer (High Springs, Fla.) at left tackle. Defensively, the Dolphins also return five starters, but All-PFL and Preseason All-America free safety Charlton Williams (Lynn Haven, Fla.) is JU's lone returning starter in the secondary. Williams led the team last season with 69 tackles.

JU will face its toughest schedule ever in 2003 with six scholarship opponents, as well as five PFL games (only 3 count toward standings) and more than 6,600 miles of travel. The Dolphins are 11-14 all-time against similar non-scholarship opponents and have five wins over scholarship programs.

The winner of the North and South Divisions of the PFL will meet in third annual league championship game on Nov. 22 at the home field of the North champion. Dayton defeated Morehead State, 28-0, in last season's PFL Championship in Morehead, Ky.

2003 Pioneer Football League Preseason Coaches' Poll

NORTH SOUTH Dayton (3) 5 Morehead State (3) 3 San Diego (1) 7 Davidson (1) 5 Drake (1) 11 Austin Peay 7 Butler 11 Jacksonville 9 Valparaiso 16 (1st place votes) Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team