(STATS) – San Diego was the slightest of favorites over fellow defending-Pioneer Football League champion Dayton in a preseason vote of the league's head coaches announced Monday.
The two shared the league title last season, but Dayton won the head-to-head meeting 13-12 – a tiebreaker that allowed the Flyers to be the PFL's automatic qualifier in the FCS playoffs.
San Diego edged Dayton in points, 95 to 94, in the preseason voting, although Dayton collected six first-place votes and USD had the other five. It marked the sixth straight year the Toreros were selected as the preseason favorite.
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Last season, San Diego finished 7-1 in the PFL and 9-2 overall, earning a share of the league title for the fourth time in five seasons. Coach Dale Lindsey's Toreros return 14 starters (six offensive and eight defensive), but only one on the offensive line in front of quarterback Anthony Lawrence, the league's offensive rookie of the year last season.
Dayton was 10-2 overall and 7-1 in the PFL, winning its first 10 games before falling to rival Drake in its final regular-season game and then 24-7 to Western Illinois in the playoffs. The Flyers, who have won a record 12 PFL titles, return 15 starters (eight offensive and seven defensive) plus their two kicking specialists. Leading the way for coach Rick Chamberlin's team is standout senior linebacker Chris Beaschler.
Drake was third in the preseason poll followed by Morehead State, Campbell, Marist, Butler, Jacksonville, Stetson, Valparaiso and Davidson.
The PFL will releases its preseason team on Tuesday.