Virginia State and Virginia Union are comparable football teams heading into this football season, according to CIAA coaches.
The Division II CIAA, whose members did not play football in the fall of 2020 or the spring of 2021 because of the pandemic, announced its predicted order of finish Thursday.
VSU is projected as the fourth-place finisher overall, and third in the Northern Division. VUU is forecast as the fifth-place team overall, fourth in the Northern Division.
The unanimous league favorite is Bowie State, a Northern Division member. Fayetteville State is picked as the Southern Division team to beat.
Virginia State and Virginia Union come off successful 2019 seasons. The Trojans went 8-2, with a 6-1 CIAA record. The Panthers finished 7-3, with a 5-2 league mark. VSU coach Reggie Barlow enters his sixth season with the Trojans, and the Panthers are led by third-year coach Alvin Parker.
VUU players honored on the CIAA preseason all-league team were receiver Charles Hall, who made 33 catches for 855 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2019, tight end Desmond Smith (Varina High), punt returner Jaiden Reavis (Highland Springs High), and placekicker Jefferson Souza, who was named 2019 CIAA special teams player of the year after making 15 of 16 field-goal attempts.
Of Hall, honored as an All-CIAA player in 2019, Parker said, “Charles’ stats speak for themselves. He showed everyone how explosive of a player he could be.”
VSU defensive lineman Javon Frazier was also recognized on the CIAA preseason team.
VUU opens its season at FCS member Hampton University on Sept. 4. VSU begins the same day against visiting Lenoir-Rhyne. To close their 10-game schedules, the Panthers and Trojans meet Nov. 6 at Willie Lanier Field at Hovey Stadium, Virginia Union’s upgraded facility.
CIAA preseason football predicted order of finish
1. *Bowie State
2. Fayetteville State
4. Virginia State
5. Virginia Union
7. Elizabeth City State
8. Johnson C. Smith
9. Winston-Salem State
10. Lincoln (PA)
12. Saint Augustine’s
1. Bowie State
3. Virginia State
4. Virginia Union
5. Elizabeth City State
6. Lincoln (PA)
1. Fayetteville State
3. Johnson C. Smith
4. Winston-Salem State
6. Saint Augustine’s