#43 Saint Francis 2018 FCS Football Preview

Saint Francis Red Flash
Overall Rank: #43
#2 NEC
 St. Francis Logo
Saint Francis went 6-4 in 2015 and 7-5 in 2016 after five losing seasons previously under Coach Chris Villarrial. In 2016 the program went to the playoffs so the hopes were high heading into 2017. However, the Red Flash fell back to a familiar 3-3 in Northeast Conference play.
2017 Record: 5-6, 3-3
2017 Postseason: None
Coach: Chris Villarrial (36-52 at Saint Francis, 36-52 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Eric Long
Defensive Coordinator: Marco Pecora
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jymere Jordan-Toney, RB, 561 yards
Passing: Bear Fenimore, QB, 1,893 yards
Receiving: Kamron Lewis, WR, 909 yards
Tackles: Sean Orsini, LB, 84
Sacks: Do’Jon Lee, LB, 3.0
Interceptions: Nick Rinella, DB, 3
Other Key Returnees: RB Avery Milner, OL Mike Ames, DB Hakeem Kinard, LB Ben Bruni, P Andrew Zecca
Key Losses: WR Jorge Solano, LB Zane Stewart, DB Malik Duncan, DB Jalen Wells, DB Delando Boyd
The offense struggled last year and in their three NEC losses, they scored just a grand total of 24 points. That is not going to cut it for a team competing for a conference title. With much of the skill players back though, Saint Francis should be able to take a significant step forward in 2018. Quarterback Bear Fenimore transferred in from Houston and threw for 1,893 yards and 14 touchdowns. He proved to be relatively efficient, completing 57.2 percent of his passes with just seven interceptions. Kamron Lewis is one of the best receivers in the FCS. When the offense took a step back in 2017, so did Lewis’ numbers, but he still caught 65 passes for 909 yards. The passing game will be fine and they will be much better off if the Red Flash can get something going on the ground. Jymere Jordan-Toney led the team with 561 yards and there is potential with Avery Milner and Joel Denley. Those three should at least be a little more productive with another year of experience under their belt.
The Red Flash boasted the best defense in the NEC last year, allowing just 14.6 points per game. Senior linebacker Sean Orsini returns to lead the defense after tallying a team high 84 tackles. With Do’Jon Lee and Ben Bruni also back, this group has plenty of talent and experience at linebacker. Nick Rinella and Hakeem Kinard lead a secondary that does have some holes to fill, but those two are great pieces to build around.
The Bottom Line:
It remains to be seen if the experience on the offensive side of the ball will lead to a more potent and dynamic team. In the meantime, the defense will do enough to keep this team in most games. And Saint Francis has five games in the month of September to sort out those issues before the beginning of NEC play. The big game in conference play will likely be the home date with Bryant on November 3rd. However, the conference race should be very tight and there are not many easy games. Perhaps the best news is that Bryant, Duquesne and Central Connecticut State all come to Loretto, Pennsylvania and if Saint Francis can take care of business at home, they can win the NEC.
Projected Postseason: None
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 101.5 (103rd in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 185.6 (83, 4)
Total Offense: 287.1 (103, 6)
Scoring Offense: 21.9 (72, 5)
Rushing Defense: 137.6 (39, 1)
Pass Defense: 149.5 (6, 1)
Total Defense: 287.1 (10, 1)
Scoring Defense: 14.6 (5, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.64 (21, 3)
Sacks: 1.45 (99, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 3.00 (108, 6)
HERO Sports 2018 Recruit Rankings:
#78 Tremayn Stott
#231 Terrell Smith