LOCK HAVEN, Pa. – The 2022 small college football season is upon us, and the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference kicks off its campaign with a slew of games Thursday.
Regional action Thursday includes West Liberty at Clarion (6 p.m.), Charleston (W. Va.) at Gannon (7 p.m.), Fairmont St. at California (Pa.) (6:30 p.m.), and Seton Hill at Wheeling (7 p.m.).
There are also four regional games Saturday with Lock Haven at Post (Noon), Edinboro at Franklin Pierce (1 p.m.), Mercyhurst at Alderson Broaddus (6 p.m.), and Wayne St. at Slippery Rock (6 p.m.).
Here is a quick look at those PSAC teams heading into the 2022 season.
CALIFORNIA (PA) – Senior Noah Mitchell returns for his fourth season as the starting quarterback after being selected the 2021 PSAC West Offensive Athlete of the Year. He enters the campaign tied for the all-time school record with 69 touchdown passes and is only 521 yards shy of breaking the school record for career passing yards, which has stood for three decades.
CLARION – Raymond Monica, a two-time American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Region 1 Coach of the Year and two-time Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) East Coach of the Year with more than 30 years of experience at the college level, became the 14th coach in Golden Eagle history on Feb. 17, 2022.
EDINBORO – The Fighting Scots will look to build off their finish to the 2021 season. Edinboro closed the season with three straight wins including a pair of road victories at IUP and Millersville. Edinboro led all teams in all divisions of football with 12 blocked kicks in the 2021 season. The Scots blocked four punts and then eight placekicks. Three different players blocked two kicks including returning defensive lineman Jahone Duggan. Edinboro also returns second-team All-PSAC punter Reed Martin. He ranked fourth in the PSAC at 38.8 yards per punt.
GANNON – Gannon returns four All-PSAC West selections from a year ago, including
running back Melvin Blanks and defensive end Nick White. In addition to earning first-team All-PSAC West recognition, both went on to earn Don Hansen honorable mention All-American accolades. Montana Nietert was a first-team All-PSAC West honoree while starting all 11 games at right guard. Chris Farnsworth was a second-team selection at safety.
LOCK HAVEN – LHU starts a new era under head coach Dan Mulrooney, who was hired in
January and enters his first year as head coach. Mulrooney comes to The Haven after leading a remarkable turnaround at NCAA Division III Anna Maria College in Paxton, Massachusetts. A historic 7-3 record led Anna Maria to the 2021 NCAA Division III playoffs, the school’s first-ever NCAA tournament appearance. The Bald Eagles open the 2022 season on Saturday, September 3 with a road trip to Waterbury, Connecticut to face off against Post University. LHU then hosts two-straight home games versus Mercyhurst and Clarion, respectively, before opening PSAC East play on the road against East Stroudsburg on September 24.
MERCYHURST – The Lakers will see a new coach in 2022 with Ryan Riemedio now manning the helm in Erie, Pa. The longtime assistant coach now takes on the role of head coach after Marty Schaetzle retired after the 2021 season. Riemedio has some familiar faces on offense to help put up points with the team’s top rusher and 2021 All-PSAC selection David Alize returning for his sophomore season while the majority of the receiving core returns. Two-time All-PSAC honoree Jason Armstrong and Cameron Barmore are coming back for another year after both eclipsing 400 receiving yards while nabbing four TDs a piece in 2021.
SETON HILL – Damonte Pratt, a key returner on the Griffins defense was named a Preseason All-American by Lindy’s Sports. Pratt led the PSAC and was tied for second in NCAA DII in interceptions (7). He finished 2021 with 29 solo and nine assisted tackles. He was an Honorable Mention on the Don Hansen All-America Team and a D2CCA All-Region selection.
SLIPPERY ROCK – Slippery Rock has claimed seven of the last 10 PSAC West titles, including back-to-back-to-back division titles the last three seasons. The Rock have also made three straight appearances in the NCAA Division II Playoffs. SRU reached the quarterfinal round in 2018 and the national semifinals in 2019 before bowing out in the first round of the playoffs in 2021. The Rock have lost just one PSAC Western Division game in just over three full seasons and are 22-1 in their last 23 PSAC Western Division games. SRU is 25-3 against the PSAC West since the beginning of the 2017 season.