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Pioneer League Preview

The teams

Favorite

SAN DIEGO: The Toreros lost 12 starters from last year’s team, but for the third straight preseason, league coaches have picked them to win the title. Lots of experience back in the secondary and at wide receiver.

Contender

JACKSONVILLE: The Dolphins, coached by former Florida Gators QB Kerwin Bell, broke even (4-4) in an injury-filled PFL season in 2013. A healthy JU team looks to challenge for the title in its first season in a new stadium.

Dark Horse

DAYTON: The Flyers finished fourth last season and posted a winning PFL record for the second straight year. QB Will Bardo, who figured in 22 touchdowns last season, has led the offense since his freshman year.

Five to watch

Matt Casey , Davidson, LB, Sr (6-1, 220): A senior leader for the Wildcats as they try to rebound from a winless 2013. The Ohioan, a preseason All-PFL pick, led his team in tackles with 106 last season (fourth in the PFL).

Andrew Robustelli , Jacksonville, WR, Sr (6-3, 210): Caught 51 passes for 10 touchdowns last season and made All-PFL team. Named for his grandfather, an NFL Hall of Fame linebacker with the New York Giants.

Pat Dowd , Dayton, DL, Sr (6-3, 230): The only returning All-PFL defensive lineman. Had 37 tackles, including 11 1/2 sacks and 12 1/2 tackles for loss n 2013.

Atiq Lucas , Marist, RB, Sr (6-0, 206): Breakaway threat who rushed for 798 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. Rushed for six TDs in the Red Foxes’ last three games.

Donald Payne , Stetson, DB, Soph (6-0, 191): Leading tackler for the Hatters last season as a freshman with 113, including 16 for loss. Was in on 4-1/2 sacks.

Game you shouldn't miss

San Diego at Butler , Oct. 18: Away game against the Bulldogs, who tied Marist for the 2013 PFL championship, could be a key to San Diego’s chances to win this year’s title.

Keith Cannon

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