Dayton’s Chamberlin surprised by Pioneer Football League poll

Dayton football coach Rick Chamberlin talks to reporters on Tuesday, July 31, 2018, at the Cronin Center in Dayton. David Jablonski/Staff

Combined ShapeCaption
Dayton football coach Rick Chamberlin talks to reporters on Tuesday, July 31, 2018, at the Cronin Center in Dayton. David Jablonski/Staff

Flyers picked second after tying for sixth last season

Coach Rick Chamberlin put the emphasis on the final two words in this quote Tuesday when talking about the fact that his Dayton Flyers were picked to finish second in the Pioneer Football League.

“You know what that preseason poll means?” Chamberlin said. “Absolutely nothing.”

Dayton received one of 10 first-place votes from the conference head coaches. It didn’t come from Chamberlin. Coaches can’t vote for their team.

» RELATED: Dayton announces 26-man recruiting class

San Diego, the defending champion and winners of six of the last seven league championships, received the other nine first-place votes. It has been the preseason favorite eight seasons in a row.

Dayton finished 5-6 overall last season — its first losing season since 2006 — and tied for sixth in the conference with a 4-4 mark. Chamberlin was surprised to see his team picked so high in the poll considering how many teams with strong returning casts had better seasons than his team a year ago.

“I think what that shows you is the respect that our conference has for the Dayton football program,” Chamberlin said.

The return of quarterback Alex Jeske, a fifth-year senior who missed the first five games last season with a broken foot, gives Dayton an edge over some teams. He’ll be a four-year starter with 23 career rushing touchdowns and 31 touchdown passes. Dayton was 4-2 after Jeske returned to action last season.

“Alex has been through big games here at Dayton, come through for us with big plays,” Chamberlin said, “and he’s a veteran, not just in skills but in his temperament out on the field, his leadership — all those qualities you’re wanting in your quarterback.”

» ARCHDEACON: Dayton football players help neighborhood in need

Dayton also has seven returning players who were named to the All-PFL preseason team: senior Sean Smith, who led the conference in punting average with a Dayton record 42.7 yards per punt; redshirt senior tight end Adam Trautman; redshirt senior running back Tucker Yinger; senior offensive tackle Ben Gauthier; redshirt senior defensive end Nick Surges; senior safety David Leisring; and senior longsnapper Matt Tunnacliffe.

Gauthier and Surges will serve as team captains. Chamberlin, entering his 11th season as head coach, expects the team to be motivated by last year’s record.

“Here at Dayton, we always have high expectations,” he said. “Every year we expect to be one of the best teams in the conference and vying for a conference championship. It did hurt last year being so close in a number of games and just not being able to come through with a big play when we needed it, so I think there’s a determination, a desire to show that was an odd year for us and to get back and play the way we know we can play and make the plays when we need to.”

About the Author