Cignetti preparing for return to Elon

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HARRISONBURG, Va. -- The James Madison football team opens Colonial Athletic Association play Saturday afternoon at Elon. JMU's Curt Cignetti was head coach of the Phoenix before taking the same position with the Dukes.

Led by head coach Curt Cignetti, the No. 2 James Madison football team is preparing for its CAA opener at Elon.

Cignetti was hired at JMU in December 2018 to replace Mike Houston, who took the head coaching job at East Carolina. Cignetti left Elon, where he has been the head coach for two years, to make the move to Harrisonburg.

"I had two great years (at Elon)," said Cignetti. "I enjoyed living there very much...but at the end of the day we did what was best for us and our family. I've got a job to do this week and on Saturday and that's how I am approaching it."

During his two seasons at Elon, Cignetti engineered a program turnaround. The Phoenix posted a 14-9 overall record and twice appeared in the FCS Playoffs. One of Cignetti's best wins at Elon came when the Phoenix defeated JMU, 27-24, at Bridgeforth Stadium in 2018. The victory ended the Dukes' 19-game home winning streak and 20-game conference winning streak.

Cignetti, however, is downplaying his return to Elon and focusing on leading the Dukes to a win in a matchup of ranked teams.

"At the end of the day, it's all about us," said Cignetti. "That's what we control and every week the opponent is faceless and you got high standards in how you do things."

"You have got a brand of ball that you like to play. What's going to make you successful in a football game really never changes so our guys are going to be really excited for the conference opener, I know that."

Kickoff between JMU and Elon is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday in Elon, North Carolina. The game will be live streamed by FloSports.