Eastern Washington, UC Davis and Weber State are the top three teams in both the 2019 Big Sky Conference football coaches and media preseason polls released Monday.
At the Big Sky Summer Football Kickoff, held at the Downtown Grand, Eastern Washington collected 10 of the 13 first-place votes in the coaches poll, accumulating 140 points.
UC Davis did not get a first-place vote but tallied 127 points for the No. 2 spot while Weber State earned a pair of first-place votes and 124 points for third. Montana garnered the remaining first-place vote and 104 points, edging Montana State (100 points) for the fourth spot.
In the media poll, Eastern Washington accumulated 25 of the 43 first-place votes and 536 points, followed by UC Davis (13 first-place votes, 510 points) and Weber State (4, 472). Montana State edged Montana for the fourth spot.
Cal Poly was selected to finish ninth in both the coaches and media polls. The Mustangs, who rebounded from a 1-10 campaign in 2017 to finish 5-6 a year ago, was picked to finish 10th (coaches) and 11th (media) a year ago and won three of their last four contests to place in a tie for sixth with Montana.
Walsh welcomes back 56 lettermen to Fall Camp on August 1, including 16 players who started five or more games in 2018 – six on offense and 10 on defense. The coaching staff must find replacements for the center of the offensive formation – record-breaking fullback Joe Protheroe, quarterback Khaleel Jenkins and center Harry Whitson – along with two linebackers, a defensive lineman, a pair of defensive backs and both kickers.
The Eagles are coming off a 12-win season and a trip to the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision title game. Head coach Aaron Best’s club set several Big Sky marks in 2018, including scoring (647 points) and touchdowns (86).
The Aggies are coming off their first FCS playoff appearance and a 10-win season while the Wildcats reached the quarterfinal round of the FCS playoffs and also completed a 10-win season. With the most returning all-conference players than any other team, Weber State enters the 2019 campaign with three consecutive playoff appearances under its belt.
Eastern Washington, UC Davis and Weber State were all named Big Sky tri-champions in 2018.
The 2019 Big Sky preseason all-conference team also was announced Monday.
UC Davis quarterback Jake Maier, the reigning Big Sky Offensive Most Valuable Player, was picked to repeat in 2019. Maier completed 364 of 557 passes for 3,931 yards and 34 touchdown passes in 2018.
Montana linebacker Dante Olson was named the 2019 Big Sky Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Olson led the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) in tackles with 151 stops and finished third in the running for the Buck Buchanan Award,
Idaho offensive guard Noah Johnson, Northern Arizona cornerback Khalil Dorsey and Idaho punter Cade Coffey were the three unanimous selections to the preseason all-conference team.
Eleven of the league’s 13 schools have at least one representative on the team. Leading the way with seven honorees is Weber State. Eighteen seniors take up more than half of the spots on the preseason all-conference team. Ten juniors and one sophomore complete the team.
Cal Poly, which did not have any of its players on the preseason all-conference team, opens its 2019 season August 31 against the University of San Diego at 2 p.m. inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
2019 Big Sky Football Preseason Polls
1. Eastern Washington (10) – 140
2. UC Davis – 127
3. Weber State (2) – 124
4. Montana (1) – 104
5. Montana State – 100
6. Northern Arizona – 88
7. Idaho State – 72
8. Idaho – 65
9. Cal Poly – 56
10. Portland State – 42
11. Sacramento State – 40
12. Southern Utah – 38
13. Northern Colorado – 19
1. Eastern Washington – 536 (25)
2. UC Davis – 510 (13)
3. Weber State – 472 (4)
4. Montana State – 417
5. Montana – 396 (1)
6. Northern Arizona – 302
7. Idaho State – 285
8. Idaho – 248
9. Cal Poly – 196
10. Portland State – 178
11. Southern Utah – 160
12. Sacramento State – 125
13. Northern Colorado – 90
() Denotes first-place votes
2019 Big Sky Preseason Football Team
Preseason Offensive MVP: Jake Maier, QB, UC Davis
Preseason Defensive MVP: Dante Olson, LB, Montana
QB: Jake Maier, Sr., UC Davis
WR: Mitch Gueller, Sr., Idaho State
WR: Samuel Akem, Jr., Montana
WR: Jared Harrell, Jr., UC Davis
OT: Mitch Brott, Sr., Montana State
OT: Chris Schliting, Sr., Eastern Washington
OG: Noah Johnson, Sr., Idaho*
OG: Ty Whitworth, Jr., Weber State
C: Zach Larsen, Sr., Southern Utah
TE: Charlie Taumopeau, Sr., Portland State
RB: Josh Davis, So., Weber State
RB: Elijah Dotson, Jr., Sacramento State
FB: Troy Andersen, Sr., Montana State
PK: Trey Tuttle, Jr., Weber State
RS: Rashid Shaheed, Jr., Weber State
DT: Jalen Goss, Sr., Northern Arizona
DT: Kenton Bartlett, Sr., Portland State
DE: Adam Rodriguez, Sr., Weber State
DE: Jonah Williams, Jr., Weber State
OLB: Auston Tesch, Sr., Weber State
OLB: Bryce Sterk, Sr., Montana State
ILB: Dante Olson, Sr., Montana
ILB: Kody Graves, Sr., Idaho State
CB: Khalil Dorsey, Sr., Northern Arizona*
CB: Greg Filer, Jr., Montana State
S: Adkin Aguirre, Sr., Idaho State
S: Brayden Konkol, Sr., Montana State
P: Cade Coffey, Jr., Idaho*
ST: Jace Lewis, Jr., Montana
–Provided by Cal Poly