KUTZTOWN - With the PSAC-East football luncheon at Kutztown University's multi-purpose room in the McFarland Student Union Monday afternoon, the college football season is underway in general, and specifically for the Lock Haven University football team.
One of the highlights of the luncheon is the announcement of the pre-season rankings as selected by the voting by the head coaches of the teams.
In the PSAC-East, Shippensburg was accorded the top spot, receiving six of the eight first-place votes.
LHU head coach John Allen
"As for being number one, I won't talk much about it," said Shippensburg head coach Marc "Mac" Maciejewski. "Last year I used it as a motivator because we were picked number four so I have kind of used it both ways. It is nice that we get recognized for our program by the other coaches for what we can do, but ultimately, pre-season polls don't mean anything. It is not where you start but where you finish the season and that is what we are looking for."
Following the Raiders are Bloomsburg (1 first place vote) in second place, West Chester (1 first place vote) is third, Kutztown is fourth, East Stroudsburg is fifth, Lock Haven is sixth, Millersville is seventh and Cheyney is picked to finish on the bottom of the standings.
Being chosen to finish in the sixth spot marks the first time since 2007 that the Bald Eagles weren't picked to finish in the basement of their division.
"It is nice to be recognized by your peers," said LHU head coach John Allen. "I think this is a real tribute to our players for what they have done over the last four years. People are noticing the change and differences in our program and I think that is what this poll speaks to. It is a long process. We still have to get a lot of things done in pre-season, we have to stay healthy and then we have to get through a hard, grueling 11-game season. The poll is nice, but we also understand the reality is that we have to get out there to prepare, perform and put ourselves in a position to win games."
This is also LHU's first season in the PSAC?East after the league reorganized its divisions for 2013-14.
"It is still PSAC football," Allen said. "It is a tough conference from top to bottom and from East to West. Although we were in the West, we have known that for years because we have had some tough, competitive battles with eastern teams. It doesn't change so we are going to have to prepare out athletes and our game plan from week to week and make sure our guys are ready to play. Any way you look at it, we are going to have to play tough, Bald Eagle football each and every week because the East isn't going to be any easier (than playing in the west)."
In the West, Indiana (Pa.) was voted first. Rounding out the PSAC-West balloting from second through eighth were Mercyhurst, Slippery Rock, California, Gannon, Edinboro, Clarion and newcomer Seton Hill.
"It looks like it is going to be pretty much the same," Allen said about the western poll. "Those guys have done a great job. IUP being in there doesn't surprise me at all because they are a great football team and Curt (Cignetti) has done a really good job. Seeing Marty (Mercyhurst head coach Schaetzle) up in number two is really good because he does a great job with his football program. They don't play with a lot of flash, but they play hard-nosed football. As for the rest of the poll, it kind of fits what I would have thought it might be."