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NAU tops Big Sky Conference preseason polls

Northern Arizona quarterback Case Cookus warms up for an NCAA college football game against Arizona, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

After finishing 7-4 in 2015, the NAU Lumberjacks were picked as the top team in the conference in the latest preseason polls of coaches and media.

As the Big Sky Conference revealed Tuesday, the coaches poll and media poll both had NAU as the team poised to stand atop the 13-team conference this year, something the school hasn’t accomplished since 2003.

The 2016 Lumberjacks will be led by sophomore quarterback Case Cookus, who won the Jerry Rice and FCS Freshman of the Year Awards last year. He threw for 3,117 yards and 37 touchdowns and had a 69 pass completion percentage.

Cookus, along with junior receiver Emmanuel Butler, offensive tackle Jacob Julian and center Blake Porter, made the pre-season all-conference team.

Though both polls agree on NAU as the top team, the coaches poll had Portland State ranked No. 2 while Montana took runner-up in the media poll. The Lumberjacks won’t play Portland State, but have a home match against Montana on Oct. 22.

NAU will open its season on Sept. 3 at Arizona State.

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