UU football picked to finish last in MEC

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BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. – The Concord Mountain Lions have been picked to repeat as Mountain East Conference football champions after a vote conducted by the league’s coaches. Concord collected 100 points in the poll and was picked to finish first on 10 ballots.

Shepherd was picked second with 90 points and had the remaining first-place vote. Charleston was chosen third with 81 points, followed by Glenville State in fourth (69), West Liberty in fifth (60) and Notre Dame in sixth (56). West Virginia Wesleyan was predicted to finish seventh with 42 points, and Fairmont State (36), West Virginia State (30), UVa-Wise (20) and Urbana University (18) rounded out the poll.

UU (3-8, 2-8 in 2014) went through a coaching change over the summer as Tyler Haines took over the reigns of the Blue Knights’ program from Dave Taynor.

Haines, who was most recently the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Indiana (Pa.), has just four starters returning on offense to work with.

Defensively, UU returns eight starters, including D’Gary Wallace, who is one of the top players in the league at linebacker. A two-time first team All-MEC selection and USA College Football Preseason First Team All-American, Wallace led the conference in tackles with 115 along with 6.5 sacks in 2014.

Junior linebacker Kevin Chapple, who finished among the league leaders in sacks and tackles for loss in each of his first two seasons, will also anchor the defense.

“We don’t take away anything from preseason polls,” Haines said. “We understand where we’re at as a program, but at the same time we feel that we’ll be more competitive than the polls suggest. We have a lot of solid talent returning and we’re focused on improving every day.”

The Blue Knights begin practice on Aug. 15 and open the season at home Sept. 5 against Glenville State at noon.

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