PSAC West Week 1

September 4th, 2019 12:00pm

PSAC West Week 1

PSAC West Week 1


This week we finally get to open the 2019 season. After weeks of camp, months of offseason programs, and a year’s worth of anticipation, we finally get to the point when we can begin to know who will challenge for the PSAC West, PSAC, Super Regional 1 and NCAA titles.


This weekend we see seven of the eight programs in the PSAC West in action, six of which will be playing teams from outside of the PSAC. Many of these games will carry some weight long into the season.  Clarion will play familiar PSAC East School Shippensburg in the only crossover in week 1. Three schools will play teams from the NE-10: Gannon will travel to play Southern Connecticut State, Cal U will travel to Saint Anselm, and the game of the weekend IUP will welcome New Haven. The final two matchups will see teams playing schools from the GMAC and GLIAC.  Mercyhurst will welcome GMAC School Lake Erie, and Edinboro will travel to Grand Valley State.


Here is a rundown of the entire PSAC Schedule:


Lincoln @ Lock Haven

Millersville @ Pace

Gannon @ S. Conn. St

Lake Erie @ Mercyhurst

Slippery Rock @ Wayne State

Cal U @ Saint Anselm

Clarion @ Shippensburg

New Haven @ IUP

Assumption @ Kutztown

East Stroudsburg @ Wagner (FCS)

Bentley @ West Chester

Ohio Dominican @ Shepherd

Stonehill @ Bloomsburg

Edinboro @ Grand Valley State


In this column we will focus our attention on the eight schools of the PSAC West but we would be remised not to mention the key matchups this weekend in the PSAC East. Four matchups with the NE-10 along with the three matchups in the west will set a tone for the regional rankings later this fall. In the East this week all three of the “top” contenders will play very tough competition. All three matchups are home games but should show us a lot. Ohio Dominican will visit Shepherd in a matchup of two programs looking to return to the playoffs after disappointments in 2018. West Chester and Kutztown both are looking for strong starts after playoff runs last season.  Keep an eye on all of the great matchups this weekend.


Week 1 Game Previews:


Slippery Rock @ Wayne State (GLIAC)

  • Slippery Rock travels north to the state of Michigan this Thursday to play Wayne State out of the GLIAC. Wayne State went 2-9 in 2018 and will be looking to rebound this season. Wayne State was picked fifth in the preseason GLIAC coach’s poll. Slippery Rock is coming off of a playoff run that ended in the regional championship game. Slippery Rock struggled in last season’s opener with Kentucky State. Led by Roland Rivers at quarterback, The Rock will lean on the pass early in 2019. The Rock will look to build on last season’s defense, which ranked near the top of the league.  The Rock will travel north and start slow Thursday night, but will lean on experience and pull away in the second half. The pick Slippery Rock 38 Wayne State 14


Lake Erie (GMAC) @ Mercyhurst

  • The Lakers welcome the Storm of Lake Erie College this Thursday night. The Lakers won Erie County in 2019, but this season they have their sites set higher.  After going 5-6 with three close loses the Lakers believe 2019 can be a different story.  The story for Mercyhurst is a simple one, improve on offense and continue along with a top notch defense. The third ranked overall defense last season in the PSAC allowing only 331 yards per game kept the Lakers in every game. If redshirt senior quarterback Doug Altavilla can improve the Lakers passing game in 2019, the Mercyhurst Lakers will be a team to contend with in the PSAC.  After going winless in 2018 the Storm will be looking to take small steps in 2019. New head coach Reily Murphy comes to Lake Erie from Fayetteville State where he was the Broncos offensive coordinator. Mercyhurst will start the season off 1-0 but with the change in culture at Lake Erie I expect a tighter contest than last season, when the Storm opened against fellow PSAC member Edinboro dropping 69-0 in the opener. The Pick Mercyhurst 27 Lake Erie 14


Gannon @ SCSU (NE10)

  • The Golden Knights make the long trip this Thursday to Southern Connecticut State. Last season the Golden Knights fell 35-32 in Erie in the opening weekend to the Owls. This version of the Gannon University Golden Knights may be a much more balanced offense, without former running back Marcus Jones.  They will be forced to become a more balanced attack. Southern Connecticut State ended last season 4-6 and were picked to finish fourth in the preseason poll. This game is a game that will show if coach Rzyczcki can adjust his coaching style. This is a long road trip but will pay dividends during the upcoming weeks if Gannon can show improvement and can create a new identity to carry into the cross over weeks and into the PSAC west schedule. The Pick SCSU 24 Gannon 20  


Cal U @ Saint Anselm (NE10)

  • Under Friday night lights, the Vulcans open 2019 with a road test at NE-10 bottom feeder Saint Anselm. After a disappointing 7-4 season in 2018 the Vulcans will look to avoid an out of conference road lose again in 2019. Sophomore quarterback Noah Mitchell will lead the Cal U offense again this season. The record setting freshman season Mitchell had in 2018 was overshadowed by the lack of a playoff appearance. The Hawks are coming of a 1-8 campaign last season. Saint Anselm coach Joe Adams enters his fourth season leading the Hawks and progress is the goal.  The Hawks were not picked at the bottom of the NE-10, but ahead of new D2 program Franklin Pierce. The Vulcans will enjoy this long trip to New England much more than last season’s trip to Ohio Dominican; they will overmatch the Hawks and return to the Commonwealth 1-0. The pick Cal U 42 Saint Anselm 17


Clarion @ Shippensburg

  • In the only crossover matchup of the weekend Clarion will travel to Shippensburg in a matchup of former PSAC West rivals. Last season these two old rivals opened in downtown Pittsburgh at Highmark Stadium, with the Red Raiders pulling away in the second half to win 35-13. The Golden Eagles then went on to win four games in a row before dropping the final 6 contests of the season.  In 2018 Clarion leaned on a strong defense, but with only six starters returning the Eagles will need an experienced core of skill position players on offense to carry the load. Quarterback Jeff Clemens and wide receiver Dana Jackson will need to show continued big play ability while the new look defense tries to find footing. The home standing Red Raiders headed into the offseason with a huge twenty-four point victory over IUP to end 2018. Picked to finish fourth in the PSAC East Shippensburg returns nine starters from a strong offense which led the league in passing yards per game and was fourth in overall yardage. This will be a tough game for the Golden Eagles, however, Shippensburg Sophomore quarterback Brycen Mussina will be looking to build on a great year last season, 32 touchdowns and 3,372 yards for rookie season. The pick Shippensburg 27 Clarion 13


Edinboro @ Grand Valley State (GLIAC)

  • The Fighting Scots travel to one of the most intimidating environments in D2 football Lubbers Stadium. Edinboro has been on the uptick the last few seasons under Wayne Bradford, last season going 6-5 overall. After opening last year with Lake Erie the Fighting Scots begin a three year series with Grand Valley State on the road this season, next year at Edinboro and then a return trip to Grand Valley State in 2021. Edinboro will only return five starters from a middle of the pack defense.  This will be the biggest test on Saturday; Grand Valley will put pressure on this side of the ball. Much like Gannon, Edinboro will lean on quarterback Andrew Tomko and the receiving corp. as they break in a new starting running back. This Saturday night “black out” conditions await the Fighting Scots, this could be a long night for a revamped Scot team. The pick Grand Valley 38 Edinboro 17


Game of the Week:

New Haven (NE10) @ IUP

  • In a matchup of two of the top programs in Super Regional 1, the Chargers of New Haven travel to picturesque Indiana County for a week one matchup. New Haven enters 2019 as the favorite in the Northeast -10 conference. After a 9-3 campaign and a second round playoff appearance the Chargers will look to start off strong in 2019. Both New Haven and IUP have one thing in common coming into this matchup both had theirs seasons ended after playing Slippery Rock in 2018. New Haven in the second round of the NCAA playoffs and IUP in the middle of the season. IUP would rebound and ultimately drop the season finally with Shippensburg to finish 8-3.  IUP will look to break in a new starting quarterback, Senior transfer Quinton Maxwell from Ohio University. Maxwell has been reported to be a strong armed quarterback who by all accounts can make all the throws and is a great leader in the locker room. Maxwell will look to lead an offense that in many ways did not reach expectations in 2018. Maxwell will be able to lean on running backs Samir Bullock and Justice Evans.  This duo led a rushing attack that averaged 185 yards per game last season.  New Haven is led by wide receiver Ju’an Williams who last season went over 1100 receiving yards.  Williams led the Chargers to the second top scoring offense in the NE10. New Haven is a talented team, but I believe that IUP is deeper and if Maxwell plays to his potential IUP will begin the season 1-0. The pick IUP 38 New Haven 30


This is a great weekend of football to kickoff the 2019 season.  This will begin to answer those questions about who is a contender and who will have a long fall. I would also be remised if I did not wish best of luck to the Cheerleaders and Marching Bands all throughout the PSAC West. They have put in countless hours preparing for the season and bring such excitement and enthusiasm to each game day experience. Check back next week as we recap this weekend and prepare for the first week of crossover matchups. Follow along on twitter @zsimpson_d2 for updates during the weekend.