CONWAY — Coastal Carolina football coach Joe Moglia has downplayed the Chanticleers’ growing national ranking all season, but he relented just a little Monday afternoon as his team climbed into a new stratosphere for the program and the Big South Conference.
Two days after dispatching Gardner-Webb, 42-7, to improve to 6-0, Coastal moved up two spots in the FCS Coaches Poll to No. 4 and two spots in The Sports Network FCS media poll to No. 6.
The previous high ranking for a Big South team was Stony Brook (No. 6 in the media poll) last year, while Coastal had already broken its own program-best ranking with the No. 6 spot it held in the coaches poll last week. Before this season, the Chants’ highest ranking within the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision was a No. 8 mark achieved in 2005.
“I certainly feel good and our team feels good that we’ve had enough things that we have done well that people around the country think that we may have a pretty good football team,” Moglia said. “But I would still go back to all the things we have talked about in the past. While I’m flattered [and] I am pleased, this won’t have any impact in terms of the way we prepare this week, it won’t have any impact in terms of how Liberty prepares this week.”
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The Chants, who are one of five unbeaten teams remaining at the FCS level, travel to play conference rival Liberty on Saturday afternoon in Lynchburg, Va. They are 1-4 on the road all time against the Flames (3-3), and from the outset this fall, this was expected to be a pivotal game in the league race as Coastal and Liberty were voted first and second, respectively, in the Big South’s preseason poll.
As for the national ranking, this marks the third week in a row the Chants have been recognized as a consensus top-10 team. Coastal’s 2005 team was the only other group in Big South history to achieve that feat.
Senior safety LaDarius Hawthorne echoed Moglia’s sentiments about remaining focused on the task at hand, but yes, he said, the players do get interested each week now to see the latest rankings.
“There were times we used to check to see how low we [were]; it’s a great feeling to check and see how high we are now,” Hawthorne said. “ We’re proud of the coaches as well, just as they’re proud of the players.”
Hawthorne made a point of spreading credit around to the forebearers of the program as well as the university administration and, of course, the current coaching staff and players.
“The position we’re in is not just because of the players; it’s the whole university and everybody before us,” he said.
Coastal has won 12 of its last 13 games dating back to last season, with the lone loss coming in the second round of the FCS playoffs, and the Chants have been at their most dominant of late while winning their last four games by an average margin of 28 points.
Asked if his first season and a half as Coastal’s head coach has gone as well as he ever could have imagined, Moglia concurred.
“I think it would be inconsiderate of me to think anything else,” he said. “I was very pleased with the way we finished up last year. I’m pleased with the attitude of the kids that we’ve got. I’m very pleased with the progress that we made. If someone said a year and a half ago you’d be a top-10 team or a top-5 team, I think everybody would have felt that would be a good accomplishment.”
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