Dukes ranked No. 1 in STATS preseason poll

James Madison University’s football team starts the 2017 season where it finished the 2016 season — at No. 1.

The Dukes are the No. 1 ranked team in the STATS Football Championship Subdivision preseason poll. The defending FCS champions received 134 out of 163 first-place votes and a total of 4,034 points.

It’s the second-time in school history that the Dukes have started the season atop the preseason poll. The last time was in 2005, after JMU won its first National Championship in 2004.

JMU went 14-1 last year, including 12 in a row. The 12-straight wins are currently the longest win streak in both FCS and the Football Bowl Subdivision.

The Dukes led the FCS in completion percentage (70.8 percent), team pass efficiency (181.69), first downs (380), defensive interceptions (21) and punt return average (26.65).

JMU was also second in FCS in scoring (46.7), fourth in third down conversions (50 percent), fifth in rushing (275.0) and turnovers gained (30).

The Dukes return 14 starters to this year’s team including three All-Americans from last year — Bryan Schor (2016 Colonial Athletic Association Offensive Player of the Year), offensive lineman Aaron Stennie and safety Raven Greene.

JMU senior tight end and 2014 Strasburg graduate Jonathan Kloosterman was named last week to the STATS FCS Preseason All-American team, along with Stennie, Greene and defensive lineman Andrew Ankrah.

North Dakota State was ranked second behind JMU with 3,874 points and 19 first-place votes, followed by Sam Houston State (3,610 points), South Dakota State (3,610 points) and Eastern Washington (3,270 points).

JMU was one of five CAA teams in the Top 25 poll. Richmond was seventh, followed by Villanova (No. 10), New Hampshire (no. 13) and Albany (No. 24).

The Dukes open the season on Sept. 2 at East Carolina University at 6 p.m.