ASHEVILLE, NC. (WJHL) – The ETSU Buccaneers will open preseason football camp on Wednesday, as the first year of the George Quarles era is set to officially begin.

On Thursday, a handful of SoCon head coaches were quick to praise the top-to-bottom strength of the league, one that Quarles believes is competing to be one of the best in Division I FCS.

Everyone is chasing the championship pedigree of North Dakota State and the rest of the Missouri Valley Conference. But, depending on the publication, the SoCon is placing three teams in Preseason Top 25 polls to the MVC’s five.

Another strong year of Southern Conference football wouldn’t surprise many of the league’s coaches one bit.

“It’s a very, very solid league – anybody can beat anybody on any given day,” Quarles said. “There’s not a gimme in this league. The one team can lose to the nine team. It’s that close.”

“It’s exciting – you better show up every week,” Mercer head coach Drew Cronic echoed. “I mean, you could get your butt cut by anybody, OK? But you could also beat anybody. It’s that way – it’s an exciting league. I certainly felt like we deserved to have more than one team in the playoffs last year – but hey, that’s more motivation for us.”

The SoCon slate will start on Week 1 this year, as Wofford and Chattanooga meet Saturday, September 3. ETSU’s first conference game will come at The Citadel on Saturday, September 10.