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PSAC preseason football coaches’ poll announced

LOCK HAVEN — The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) announced the 2021 preseason football coaches’ poll Thursday, and the Lock Haven University football team was picked to finish eighth in the Eastern Division.

Once again in 2022, Shepherd University was tabbed as the favorite in the Eastern Division. The Golden Rams, who bowed out in the NCAA Division II semifinals in 2021, notched four first-place votes, as did 2021 PSAC Champions Kutztown, who were picked second in the East. Rounding out the top-three was West Chester, followed by Shippensburg and East Stroudsburg in fourth and fifth. Just ahead of the Bald Eagles in sixth and seventh, respectively, were Bloomsburg and Millersville.

In the West, 2021 PSAC runner-up Slippery Rock and Indiana (Pa.) were locked into a tie for the top spot, having each received three of the eight first-place votes. Grabbing the final two remaining votes was California (Pa.), who rounded out the top-three.

New era

The LHU football team will start a new era under head coach Dan Mulrooney who was hired in January and enters his first year as head coach. Mulrooney comes to The Haven after leading a remarkable turnaround at NCAA Division III Anna Maria College in Paxton, Massachusetts. A historic 7-3 record led Anna Maria to the 2021 NCAA Division III playoffs, the school’s first-ever NCAA tournament appearance.

The 2017 season was Mulrooney’s first at Anna Maria and prior to his arrival, the program won a combined six games in the previous five seasons from 2012-16. His 11 wins are the most in school history and before Mulrooney was the head coach, Anna Maria had never won more than two games in a season. The team went 2-8 in 2019, before the 2020 season was canceled because of COVID-19 and despite the 2020 layoff, the program soared to new heights during the 2021 campaign.

Open season

at post

The Bald Eagles will kick off the 2022 season on the road as they are set to take on Post University on Saturday, September 3 at 1 p.m. The matchup will mark the 2022 season-opener for both squads. For Post, the 2021 season marked its inaugural at the Division II level, and the Eagles capped the season with a 2-3 overall record.

LHU’s season-opener at Post is one of six scheduled games away from home. LHU will finish the season playing three of its final four games on the road, including the season-finale at Edinboro on Saturday, November 12. Lock Haven’s PSAC Eastern Divisional road games come versus East Stroudsburg, Shepherd, Kutztown and West Chester.

Home-schedule

LHU’s 2021 home-opener will come in Week 2 as Lock Haven is set to host Mercyhurst on Saturday, September 10 at 6 p.m. That game will mark the first of two straight PSAC West crossover matchups for LHU, who also hosts Clarion on Saturday, September 17 (Week 3) at 2 p.m. in the Bald Eagles Homecoming Game. The Bald Eagles cap the home-schedule versus Shippensburg on Saturday, November 5 at 1 p.m., after hosting both Millersville and Bloomsburg in home PSAC East contests. That game also serves as Senior Day for LHU.

Defensive

standouts return

Overall, LHU’s defensive unit returns seven starters. Headlining that unit is All-PSAC linebacker Shane Scott. In 2021, Scott racked up 97 total tackles and his 5.6 solo tackles per game ranked 17th in all of Division II. Fellow linebacker Austin Barber was The Haven’s leader with 10.5 tackles for loss in 2021. In the defensive backfield, Darryl Pollard bolsters the secondary after leading The Haven in pass breakups and also grabbing two interceptions.

Rushing & receiving leaders return

Offensively, the Bald Eagles return six starters from the 2021 season, including its top two rushing leaders and its top-four in receiving yardage. DeAndre Wakefield returns in the backfield after gaining 460 yards on 93 attempts in 2021. In the Bald Eagles matchup with Slippery Rock, Wakefield took off on a school-record 95-yard touchdown run. In wide receiver Chris Hicks and tight end Isiah Gonzalez, LHU returns a large chunk of its passing attack as the duo led the way in catches, yards and touchdowns.

Full 2022 PSAC Football Coaches’ Poll Results

Eastern Division

(# of 1st Place Votes)

1. Shepherd (4)

2. Kutztown (4)

3. West Chester

4. Shippensburg

5. East Stroudsburg

6. Bloomsburg

7. Millersville

8. Lock Haven

Western Division

(# of 1st Place Votes)

T1. IUP (3)

T1. Slippery Rock (3)

3. California (2)

4. Gannon

T5. Edinboro

T5. Seton Hill

7. Mercyhurst

8. Clarion

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