Friday, August 6, 2010

Cal, West Chester the favorites

For the fifth straight season, the California Vulcans have been chosen as the preseason favorite to win the PSAC West while West Chester has been tabbed by the league’s head coaches to win the PSAC East for the third time in the last four years. The Golden Rams were also the preseason favorite in the East in both 2007 and 2008. The Vulcans and Golden Rams top the divisions in the 2010 PSAC football coaches’ preseason poll that is being announced today as a part of PSAC football media day.

California will be looking to advance to the PSAC Championship game for the third straight season after the annual “State Game” was reinstated for the 2008 season. The Vulcans will also be looking for their fourth straight NCAA Super Region One championship, as the Vulcans have advanced to the NCAA semifinals in each of the last three straight years. West Chester will be looking to rebound from a 7-4 season last year in which the Golden Rams had their string of five straight NCAA playoff appearances snapped, a streak that had ranked second among all Division II schools.

In what appears to be a shared belief that the Eastern Division will be a close race this year, the Golden Rams got the top spot in the preseason poll despite not receiving a single first place vote, edging out second place Bloomsburg, which receiving only one first place vote, by just one point. C.W. Post, which won five of its last six games last season to finish 6-5 in its second year as an associate member of the PSAC in football, received three first place votes to finish in third place, just five points behind West Chester. Defending East and PSAC Champion Shippensburg also received three first place votes to finish just four points behind C.W. Post and in fourth place, while fellow NCAA playoff participant East Stroudsburg got the nod for fifth place, receiving the remaining first place vote. In total, just 13 points in the poll separated first place from fifth place. Kutztown, Millersville and Cheyney rounded out the poll.

Things were not as close at the top in the Western Division as California garnered all but one first place vote to easily take the top spot. Despite having its first losing season in over 25 years last season, IUP still got the nod for second place, reflecting a belief by the league’s head coaches that IUP’s 5-6 mark last year was largely more a result of a rash of injuries than anything else. Clarion, which posted one of the best improvements in the nation in Division II last year, followed IUP in third place while Erie County residents Edinboro, also an NCAA playoff team last year, and Gannon tied for fourth place while Slippery Rock came in sixth. The Fighting Scots received the other first place vote. The West poll was bunched up in the middle as opposed to the top as in the East, as third place through sixth place were separated by just three points. Mercyhurst came in seventh, just seven points behind Slippery Rock, while Lock Haven rounded out the poll in eighth.

The results of the coaches’ poll are listed below. First place votes are in parenthesis.

Eastern Division
1. West Chester
2. Bloomsburg (1)
3. C.W. Post (3)
4. Shippensburg (3)
5. East Stroudsburg (1)
6. Kutztown
7. Millersville
8. Cheyney

Western Division
1. California (7)
2. IUP
3. Clarion
T4. Edinboro (1)
T4. Gannon
6. Slippery Rock
7. Mercyhurst
8. Lock Haven


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