McNeese picked 4th

Cowboys have higher hopes as season approaches
By Jim Gazzolo

The Southland Conference, or at least what is left of it, held its annual dog and pony show in Houston Thursday. 

Along with trying to rally the troops, commissioner Tom Burnett and his crew released his preseason football poll. McNeese was picked to finish fourth by the voters, getting 26 points.

Southeastern Louisiana, led by Walter Payton Award winner Cody Kelley at quarterback, was picked for the top spot in the league’s preseason poll released Thursday with 48 points and eight of the 12 first-place votes. Nicholls was selected second with 43 points and the other four top votes.

The Payton Award goest to the top player in the Football Championship Subdivision nationally.

Incarnate Word was picked third with 32 points. After McNeese, Northwestern State (21) and Houston Baptist (10) were selected fifth and sixth respectively.

“It really doesn’t make a difference where you are picked,” said Southeastern head coach Frank Scelfo. “It matters what you do on the field, in June and July.”

For McNeese, coming off a 3-4 spring season that saw the Cowboys suffer through four weather disasters during a nine month period, just playing football is great. 

“In 20 plus years of coaching it was probably the toughest job I have endured,” McNeese head coach Frank Wilson said. “We had to let the players know that we will prevail and there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. The spring season happened and we started to play our best football at the back end of the season. We came closer together than ever before.”  

Wilson proclaimed “the sky’s the limit,” when talking about his team’s hopes for the fall. 

“I don’t want to put limits on us,” Wilson added. “We have no glass ceiling. We’re anxious to be able to play a fall season and compete for a conference championship. 

“Our players have trained diligently and staff has worked extremely hard. I like our football team. We could not be more excited about where we are and what we have done.”

His players feel the same way. 

All-American end Isaiah Chambers is a candidate for national defensive player of the year on the Football Championship Subdivision level after an outstanding spring. He finished fourth in the voting for Buck Buchanan Award and was named by Phil Steele as the nation’s top defensive player. 

The grad student was named the top defensive player in the SLC and Louisiana last season, finishing with 7.5 sacks. He is ready to go.

“I’m excited to be back and playing in the fall,” said Chambers. “I feel like when I’m playing my best, we play our best as a defense. I try to stay positive and lead by example. I don’t talk a lot but I try to lead our guys and show them that if they give their best efforts, great things will come.”  

For quarterback Cody Orgeron it is about the community he has called over the past few years. 

“We want to bring a conference championship to the city of Lake Charles and that community,” said Orgeron. “They have been through a lot and stuck with us.

“There’s so much resiliency from the people in Southwest Louisiana. We’re playing for the city and want to them home a championship.” 

2021 Southland Conference Football Preseason Poll

Team (First-place votes)


1.      Southeastern (8)


2.      Nicholls (4)


3.      UIW


4.      McNeese


5.      Northwestern State


6.      Houston Baptist




Categories: McNeese State Sports, Sports