Practice begins this week for most area college football teams. It should be quite an interesting season in the SCIAC. There are plenty of story lines.
Cal Lutheran is a heavy favorite. The Kingsmen are looking for a third straight conference title. They return 18 starters and will be playing in a brand-spanking new facility so the program has considerable momentum.
After that it will be a crapshoot. The University of Redlands is always in contention but the Bulldogs did finally graduate quarterback Dan Selway as well as their “quarterback” on the other side of the ball in defensive back-kick returner extraordinaire in Mike Nicolini.
The Bulldogs open the season a week earlier than usual and will have a tough first-week foe in North Central (Ill.) which is the favorite in its conference. Beating that team might be a tall order with question marks in such key positions.
There are three new coaches – Kyle Sweeney at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Chris Krich at La Verne and Kirk Jellerson at Whittier. Sweeney is in the best situation with a lot of returning starters from a team that went 7-2.
For Krich and Jellerson a three-win season would mean progress.
Then there is Occidental, looking to bounce back from an uncharacteristic losing season.
If that weren’t enough, Chapman joins the SCIAC this year although the Panthers won’t be eligible for a conference title in the first year. They play the SCIAC schools anyway so they may as well be in the conference.
On a sad note - condolences go out to the family and friends of former Occidental quarterback Andy Collins who collapsed and died while running on a treadmill in Florida. He was just 27 and had been married one week earlier. He was a three-time SCIAC Player of the Year.