Cajuns favored to win SBC division in coaches' poll

From staff reports
UL's head coach Billy Napier poses with Elijah Mitchell during halftime as the Ragin' Cajuns football team plays their annual Spring football game against one another in the Leon Moncla trainig facility on April 13, 2019.

NEW ORLEANS — The Appalachian State Mountaineers and University of Louisiana at Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns are the favorites to win the 2019 Sun Belt Conference Football East and West divisions, respectively, as voted on by the league’s 10 head coaches. The Sun Belt released the preseason poll Thursday in advance of the Sun Belt’s annual media day that begins Sunday.

For the second consecutive season, the Sun Belt will continue with a Divisional format to determine a champion. The Championship Game will be played at the site of the divisional team with the best overall conference winning percentage on Dec. 7.

Additionally, Appalachian State was picked as the overall favorite to win the Championship title in a vote that included selected members of the media, along with the 10 football head coaches.

UL was picked to win the West Division, garnering six first-place votes for a total of 46 points. The Cajuns started conference play with a 2-3 record before rattling off three consecutive Sun Belt wins to close out the season and earn a spot in the inaugural Championship Game.

Head coach Billy Napier enters his second season at the helm of the Cajuns’ program and they return 17 starters from last year's squad — eight offensive; six defense; three special teams. Napier's Cajuns finished second in the league in scoring offense at 31.9 points per game and was third in total offense, averaging 424.3 yards per contest. A three-headed running attack in juniors Elijah Mitchell and Trey Ragas, and senior Raymond Calais led the Cajuns rushing attack, which ranked third in the league at 218.7 yards per game.

Arkansas State was tabbed second in the West with 42 points and three first-place votes while ULM was picked to finish third with 27 points.

Sun Belt Media Day will be held in New Orleans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on July 22. Live ESPN3 coverage of the event begins at 8:30 a.m. and will run until 5 p.m.

The 2019 season kicks off Aug. 29, with Texas State heading to College Station to take on Texas A&M at 7:30 p.m. on the SEC Network. The rest of the league gets underway Aug. 31 with a full slate of games starting at 11 a.m. The 2019 Sun Belt Football Championship Game is scheduled for Dec. 7 and will be televised live at 11 a.m. on ESPN or ESPN2.