They aren’t your father’s Red Flash!
Fresh off the 31-21 victory that clinched the program’s first-ever Division I FCS playoff bid, Saint Francis has cracked the STATS FCS Top 25 Media Poll for the first time in history.
The Red Flash (7-3, 5-0), who have made a habit of reaching new heights this year, jumped up into the No. 25 spot when the post-Week 11 rankings were released on November 14.
“This is a great accomplishment for the program and a reflection of the work done by our staff and players,” said SFU head coach Chris Villarrial, who enjoyed an 11-year NFL playing career as an offensive guard prior to returning to his native Pennsylvania.
It is the first ranking in the poll for a NEC team since 2014 when Sacred Heart occupied 24th place in that season’s final edition. With SFU now added to the list, six of the current NEC members have been ranked in the official FCS media poll at some point in the past decade.
The Red Flash’s national ranking came two days after SFU secured the program’s first-ever Northeast Conference crown.
A charter member of NEC Football, Saint Francis had never even finished higher than third place until 2015 when it was runner-up to Duquesne. In fact, the 2015 season marked the first time ever that SFU (4-2) finished above .500 in conference play.
“Our staff has worked extremely hard to build this program and the players have shown great belief in the values of our program,” Villarrial said. “That hard work was rewarded with a conference title this past weekend and now the program’s ranking in the Top 25.”
Further illustrating how far the Red Flash have progressed during Villarrial’s tenure is the fact that the team had managed only a combined five wins (overall) over the three seasons directly prior to his appointment in 2010.
From 1996 through 2011, there were 12 seasons during which Saint Francis posted no more than one NEC victory.
Having already set the program’s single-season record for overall victories (7) since elevating to the FCS level in 1992, the postseason-bound Red Flash have finally arrived to a place that once seemed two universes away – the Top 25.
“We still have some games left and want to finish the season strong, but we are proud of what we have accomplished so far this year,” Villarrial said.
Now, it’s time to find out exactly how high this new generation of Red Flash can go.
— FCS Football (@FCS_STATS) November 14, 2016