Colonels embrace expectations, but know much work needs to be done
If Nicholls’ rivals are correct, goodness, there’s going to be one fun football season coming up in Thibodaux.
The Colonels were a unanimous preseason pick to be the 2019 Southland Conference Champions this past week at Southland Media Days in Texas.
Nicholls received 20 of the 22 first-place votes in the preseason poll. They’re considered a unanimous pick because each school gets two votes in the poll and the Colonels’ contingent — like all the other teams in the league — wasn’t allowed to vote for themselves.
Coach Tim Rebowe said it was an honor to be the preseason pick to win the conference, adding that he received several calls and text messages from friends congratulating he and the team for “coming so far” in the past half-decade.
But Rebowe said games are not won on paper and he and the Colonels know they must fight extra hard to cash in on those high expectations.
“It’s an honor and we’re proud to be picked there, but we know that rankings don’t win football games,” Rebowe said. “We embrace the expectations and if it motivates our guys and makes them work even harder to live up to them, then maybe we can look back and say that it’s a good thing. But we know we have a lot of work to do and that our conference is full of competitive teams who will be hungry just like we are.”
The reason for the high expectations is because of the talent on Nicholls’ roster.
Before the preseason poll was announced, the Preseason All-Southland teams were set and Nicholls had 11 players selected — the most of anyone in the league.
Rebowe said the talent on the roster made it somewhat expected that the Colonels would be No. 1 in the preseason poll.
Rebowe said that he knows that he receives a lot of credit around the state for the work the Colonels have done to turnaround their program, but he added quickly that the Colonels’ assistant coaches and players deserve an equally large slice of the pie.
To have that many talented returnees, the coach said, is a testament to his assistant coaches’ recruiting skills and also to the hard work of the players to develop their crafts.
“Look, you need the players in this business. They’re the ones who make us coaches look good on Saturdays. We know that,” Rebowe said. “I think the talent we have on our roster also shows the relationships our assistant coaches have developed with the high schools around the state. They work hard and build those relationships and look, a lot of players took a chance on us. A lot of players came here believing in our vision and we’re just blessed to be here now with the collection of talent on our roster that we have.”
Rebowe said the Colonels will have challenges — despite the expectations.
The team will start its season with four-straight road games, including the Southland Conference opener against Stephen F. Austin — a game the coach said is important for the team to win.
The Colonels don’t play a home game until Oct. 5 against Central Arkansas.
“It just feels like if you start 0-1 in the league, it’s a grind because it feels like you’re always chasing somebody down from behind,” Rebowe said when asked of the importance of getting off to a strong Southland start.
The coach said the Colonels will also have a slight adjustment to their new, 12-game schedule, which is one more game than the 11-game schedule that Football Championship Subdivision teams have played in the past.
That “extra” game this year for Nicholls is a road game at Prairie View A&M, a return trip of a home-and-home between the teams.
Rebowe said he’s excited for the season, adding that media day is always a bit of a tease, because it’s the unofficial start to the season — one which the Colonels hope will again be filled with playoff berths and championship trophies.
“We’re excited,” Rebowe said. “Listen, our guys have had a great summer. I think they’re ready. We’re eager to get on the field and start the journey.”
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