College of Idaho vs Southern Oregon Football

College of Idaho tight ends Keegan Crafton (88) and Tyler Reay celebrate after a play against Eastern Oregon on Oct. 20, 2018 at Simplot Stadium.

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After a strong finish to the 2018 season, hype around the College of Idaho football team is high heading into 2019.

The Yotes were picked as the Frontier Conference favorites by both league coaches and media that covers the league in polls released Tuesday at the end of the league’s Media Day in Great Falls, Montana.

“I think it means we’ve earned respect, and that is exciting,” College of Idaho coach Mike Moroski said. “I think we all knew that. It’s a whole different business going forward, playing up to that level. Having said all that, it’s really, really exciting for the program.”

The College of Idaho picked up five of the eight first-place votes from coaches, and finished with 44 points in the poll. Southern Oregon, which picked up two first-place votes, was second, while Montana Western, which picked up one first-place vote, was third.

Montana Tech and Rocky Mountain rounded out the top five in the coaches’ poll, while Eastern Oregon, Carroll and Montana State-Northern were sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively.

In the first-ever conference preseason media poll, 15 voters spread first-place votes among six different teams.

“I made a comment (at Media Day), I think the conference is better than most conferences in the country,” Moroski said. “I think I said it’s better than the SEC for this reason: Everybody’s capable of winning. There’s no clear-cut favorite. I think the fact we got five votes is respectful, but it really doesn’t mean anything. The cool thing is we’re on equal ground and we have a chance. That’s going to be my message to the team.”

The College of Idaho earned five of those first-place votes from the media, and finished on top with 99 points in the poll.

Southern Oregon and Montana Western each picked up three first-place votes, and were second and third, respectively. Eastern Oregon, which had one first-place vote was fourth, while Rocky Mountain was fifth, with two first-place votes. Montana Tech, which picked up the final first-place vote, was sixth, while Carroll and Montana State-Northern were seventh and eighth, respectively.

The Yotes were third in the preseason coaches poll last season, but started the season with an 0-5 record. The College of Idaho finished the season strong though, winning six straight to finish with a winning record for the second year in a row.

“Maybe lessons like last season, and the season before, starting out slow and missing by just a small amount, I think everyone understands it’s hard to win in this conference,” Moroski said. “We have won some big games and we need to renew that effort, and find a way to win early.”

The Yotes return 20 starters from last season, including all 11 starters from the offensive side of the ball. They open the season Aug. 31 with a game against Eastern Oregon at Simplot Stadium.