Slippery Rock picked 1st in PSAC West preseason football poll

Wednesday, August 4, 2021 | 4:43 PM

The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference released the 2021 Coaches Preseason Football Poll Wednesday, and reigning champion Slippery Rock was voted the team to beat.

The Rock received four first-place votes. IUP was second with three first-place votes followed by Cal (Pa.) with one vote, and then Mercyhurst, Edinboro, Seton Hill, Gannon and Clarion.

“Preseason recognition is nice, but we know it doesn’t mean anything in the long run,” Slippery Rock coach Shawn Lutz said in a release. “We have been ranked as high as No. 3 in the some of the preseason national polls that have been announced.

“Our guys know those rankings are based on 2019 and don’t really have any impact on how this season will go. We have a really tough first week opponent and expect the PSAC West to be a real fight again this year. We have big goals and can’t wait to get to work this weekend. It’s been a really long time since we got to prepare for a football season and our guys are excited.”

Slippery Rock is coming off its best season in school history in 2019. The 2020 season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Rock finished 13-1, falling in the NCAA Division II semifinals to Minnesota State, 58-15.

They defeated Kutztown, 37-35, in the PSAC Championship game and then beat Shepherd, 51-30, and Notre Dame College, 65-59, in the NCAA playoffs.

Shepherd was picked to win the PSAC East with six first-place votes. West Chester was second and Kutztown third, followed by Bloomsburg, Shippensburg, East Stroudsburg, Millersville and Lock Haven. West Chester and Kutztown each received one first-place vote.

The Rock return eight offensive starters and eight defensive starters from that 2019 team, led by All-American wide receiver Henry Litwin and All-American defensive end Chad Kuhn (Kiski Area), who both received first-team Preseason All-America honors by Lindy’s Sports this summer.

IUP is coming off a 2019 season in which it finished 10-2 overall and advanced to the NCAA playoffs for the 19th time in program history. The Crimson Hawks are set to return 10 starters from that 2019 team, including three preseason All-Americans: senior offensive lineman Josh Dauberman, redshirt junior receiver Duane Brown, and redshirt senior cornerback Nazir Streater.

Cal (Pa.) finished the 2019 campaign 7-4 overall with three of the losses being on the road to nationally-ranked teams. Cal finished second in the PSAC West with a 5-2 mark.

Seton Hill was 2-8 in 2019. The Griffins return seven starters on offense and nine on defense and also return a large group of players who saw significant playing time.

The defense will be led by their linebacker crew with four starters returning, including All PSAC West performer Jayden Emberton-Gaines.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at or via Twitter .

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