Slippery Rock owns top spot in PSAC West preseason football rankings | TribLIVE.com
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Slippery Rock owns top spot in PSAC West preseason football rankings

Michael Love
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Slippery Rock University athletics
Slippery Rock’s Roland Rivers threw for five touchdowns and ran for another against Seton Hill on Sept. 22, 2018.

The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference released its 2019 preseason football poll Monday afternoon, and Slippery Rock is favored to repeat as PSAC West champion.

The Rock, which suffered a 33-10 loss to West Chester in last year’s PSAC title game, went on to finish 11-3 overall and win a pair of games in the NCAA Division II tournament before falling to Notre Dame College (Ohio), 21-17, in the quarterfinal round.

SRU owns a preseason first-place prediction in the division for the first time since 1999. It received six of a possible eight first-place votes.

The team returns six offensive starters and 11 who started on defense in 2018, including West first-team quarterback Roland Rivers III, who threw for 3,318 yards and 28 touchdowns last fall.

“We don’t put much weight into the preseason polls, but it’s nice to start to build some excitement for the season,” coach Shawn Lutz said in a release Monday.

“Our guys put in a really good summer of training because they know being picked high in the preseason doesn’t mean anything if you don’t go out and execute. We’re ready to get camp started next week, and our focus is solely on Week 1. We’ve got big goals this season, and they start in Detroit Sept. 5.”

Cal (Pa.) and IUP are second and third, respectively, and each picked up one first-place vote. The teams finished tied for second in the West last year at 5-2.

The Vulcans, 7-4 overall last year, return 18 starters from a team that won seven of its last nine games.

The Crimson Hawks concluded their 2018 campaign 8-3 and return 17 starters, including nine on offense.

The remainder of the West preseason rankings has Mercyhurst in fourth, Edinboro in fifth, Gannon in sixth, Clarion in seventh and Seton Hill in eighth.

In the East, defending PSAC champion West Chester is ranked No. 1, with conference newcomer Shepherd (W.Va.) in second and Kutztown in third. Rounding out the rankings are Shippensburg, Bloomsburg, East Stroudsburg, Millersville and Lock Haven.

Shippensburg was the only PSAC team to defeat Slippery Rock in the 2018 regular season. The Rock went 7-0 against PSAC West opponents.

In recognition of college football’s 150th anniversary this year, the PSAC on Monday released a list of 150 contributors — student-athletes, coaches, administrators and others spanning the group of 16 member schools — that helped shape the conference’s football history.

From a collection of nominees, a group of seven former sports information directors made selections to complete the PSAC’s 150 Contributors.

Slippery Rock led the way with 12 representatives, while Edinboro, Clarion and Cal also claimed double-digit representatives.

“The opportunity to celebrate the 150th anniversary of college football with our member institutions is exciting. Recognizing many of the key contributors who are synonymous with the PSAC is a great way to highlight our great history and to allow our membership to celebrate this commemorative event,” PSAC Commissioner Steve Murray said Monday in a release.

The league also presented the George Heaslip Award, chosen annually by the PSAC’s sports information directors, to Gary Smith, director of operations for Cal (Pa.) television and advisor for Cal radio and TV, the student media outlets on campus.

The award recognizes a media professional for his or her service while covering the conference’s student-athletes, coaches and teams.

Smith, the award’s 31st honoree, has lent his talents to covering Cal athletics for more than 25 years.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-856-7400 x8632, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | College-District
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