LOCK HAVEN, Pa. – After advancing to the second round of the NCAA Playoffs in 2015, the IUP Crimson Hawks have been selected first in the 2016 PSAC West Preseason Poll by the league’s coaches.
The Crimson Hawks received five first place votes and will be led by returning quarterback Lenny Williams and running back Chris Temple, who were third and fourth in the PSAC in rushing last season.
In addition to Williams and Temple, five more all-conference players will be returning for IUP: Ethan Cooper, Jemal Averette, Kevin Clarke, Steve Franco, and Jay Watkins.
The two-time defending conference champions from Slippery Rock were in second place in the poll, earning two first place votes.
The Rock lost starting quarterback Dante Nania, but return the league’s leading rusher in 2015 in Shamar Greene. Marcus Martin, the 2015 PSAC West Defensive Athlete of the Year, is also back for SRU.
Slippery Rock also has a new head coach, as Shawn Lutz, a 20-year veteran of the staff, takes over for the retired George Mihalik.
California was third in the poll and will be led by new coach Gary Dunn. The Vulcans lose quarterback James Harris, 2015’s PSAC West Offensive Athlete of the Year, but return two prolific offensive weapons in Garry Brown and John Franklin III.
Last season, the Clarion Golden Eagles were picked to finish last in the PSAC West, but started off the year on a seven game winning streak. This year, Clarion was picked fourth in the poll and received a first place vote. The Golden Eagles return starting quarterback Connor Simmons, leading rusher Delrece Williams, and leading receiver Matt Lehman.
Erie takes up the next two spots in the poll, as Gannon comes in at fifth place, while Mercyhurst is sixth. Both schools will have a different look in 2016, losing the majority of their offensive starters in the offseason.
Seton Hill is seventh in the poll, while Edinboro is eighth.
The complete poll can be found below. First place votes are in parenthesis.
1. IUP (5)
2. Slippery Rock (2)
4. Clarion (1)
7. Seton Hill