Nicholls has a lot of work to do to repeat as the Southland Conference Football Champions.
Heck, the work hardly even started. The season is still several weeks away.
But those who follow the conference closely think the Colonels have as good a shot as anyone in 2019 — at least on paper.
The preseason All-Southland team was released last week and the Colonels have 11 guys on the list of selections — the most of any team in the league.
The Colonels have eight first-team picks and three others on the second team.
The quantity of the selections echoes what coach Tim Rebowe has said all offseason, which is that this year’s Colonels team can be incredibly competitive if they work hard to fill a few holes before the season begins.
“We have a few decisions to make and a few holes to fill,” Rebowe said earlier this offseason. “But we do think we have a lot of talented players coming back, too — some guys who have been through the wars and who have knowledge of what it takes in this conference. Having that helps and we’re excited to see those guys lead this team.”
The Colonels knew they would have at least nine players on the preseason team because league rules mandate that all returning All-Conference players receive automatic bids to the preseason team the following season.
Of Nicholls’ eight first-team selections, three are on offense.
Quarterback Chase Fourcade headlines that list as the reigning Southland Conference Player of the Year.
Fourcade is a senior in 2019 and is a three-year starter.
By the time he leaves Nicholls, he will be among the most decorated — if not the most decorated — player in the history of the Colonels’ program.
Fourcade threw for almost 3,000 yards and 21 scores last season, rushing for 13 more touchdowns. Fourcade has already started the process of re-writing Nicholls’ record books. Last season, he became the school’s all-time leading passer, while leading the team to its school record for points scored and total yards.
Rebowe said this, the quarterback’s final chapter, has the makings of being even more memorable.
“We can’t wait to see what he’s going to do this season,” Rebowe said. “He’s just been such a hard worker and a consummate leader for our program.”
But he’s also not alone.
Fourcade was also joined on the All-Southland first team by offensive lineman P.J. Burkhalter and receiver Dai’Jean Dixon.
On the second team, offensive lineman Jair Joseph and halfback Dontrell Taylor earned recognition.
But as the saying goes if offense wins games, it’s defense that wins championships and the Colonels’ defense looks loaded next season.
Nicholls has four defensive players on the All-Southland first team, led by multiple-time All-Southland standout Sully Laiche. Joining him is defensive back Darren Evans and linebackers Allen Pittman and Evan Veron.
Rebowe said the Colonels do have a few holes to fill in their defense — questions that will be answered in fall camp before the start of the season.
But having Laiche helps cover up a lot of questions — just with his sheer presence alone.
The powerful senior defensive lineman is a three-time All-Southland standout — one of the best players in the entire Football Championship Subdivision.
Laiche had 8.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss last season.
What Laiche doesn’t tackle at the line of scrimmage, Pittman and Veron are likely to chase down.
The duo were among the top tacklers in the league last season and were big-time players on a loaded defense.
The same could be said for Evans, who was a lock-down cover for Nicholls.
On the second team, Nicholls had another cornerback, Khristian Mims.
The final First-Team selection for the Colonels came on special teams where punter Winston Jones got top billing.
Jones averaged 41.4 yards per punt last season and had 17 of his kicks downed inside of the 20-yard-line. Jones also has a big leg with 7 punts last season that traveled 50 or more yards.
Nicholls will travel to Houston, Texas next week to take part in 2019 Southland Conference Media Day. The team will send Rebowe, Fourcade and Pittman to represent the university. The event will be held at the Hilton Houston Post Oak Hotel.
Many locally are wondering how the Nicholls football team will fare in 2019. Well, they have more preseason All-Southland selections then anyone else. That’s a pretty good start.