PASADENA — According to a vote by the league's coaches, the La Verne football team has been selected to finish second in SCIAC behind Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the first annual SCIAC preseason poll.
The Stags, who finished runner-up to La Verne last season, nabbed six first-place votes for a low total of 12 points. The Leopards picked up 24 points to rank second, with Redlands (27 points) and Chapman (28) close behind. Cal Lutheran (38) and Occidental (46) held down the fifth and sixth spots, respectively. Whittier (54) and Pomona-Pitzer (59) rounded out the poll.
The Leopards went a perfect 7-0 in SCIAC in 2015 to claim their first conference championship since 1995 and earned a bid to the NCAA Football Championship for the first time since 1994. La Verne lost some key pieces from last year's team--most notably All-American running back Travis Sparks-Jackson and All-SCIAC quarterback William Livingston--but return eight of 13 All-SCIAC selections from last year.
On offense, Dallas Parent will take on a featured role. The senior running back was 32nd nationally in all-purpose yards per game with 156.3 and finished 2015 with 777 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Alex Arellano (791 yards, eight touchdowns) will serve as a needed security blanket for a new signal caller. Offensive line will be anchored by senior tackle Beau Kitson and junior guard Christian Hernandez.
Senior Joshua Hardy (22 tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles) and sophomore Austin Brown (19 tackles, three sacks) emerged a top pass-rushing duo and will bookend the defensive line. Senior safety Connor Truhitte, who was tabbed All-SCIAC despite missing the final four games of the season with an injury, will return to direct the defense. He finished last season with 31 tackes, one interception and two pass breakups in just six games.
The Leopards open their campaign on Sept. 3 on 1 p.m. at Puget Sound.
2016 SCIAC Football Preseason Poll