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Big Sky football: Weber State picked sixth, Southern Utah seventh

July 19, 2016 GMT

Park City • Defending champion Southern Utah is picked to finish in the middle of the Big Sky Conference football race, closely following Weber State in preseason polls released Tuesday.

SUU is seventh in the media poll and tied for seventh in the coaches vote. Weber State is sixth in each poll.

Northern Arizona in the consensus favorite in the 13-team league. The order of the top five differs in each poll, but the same teams are listed: Portland State, Montana, Eastern Washington and North Dakota.

SUU rose far above expectations last season to win the conference title and appear in the FCS playoffs. Coach Ed Lamb then joined the BYU staff and was replaced by defensive coordinator Demario Warren. The Thunderbirds also lost three defensive stars — cornerback LeShaun Sims, safety Miles Killebrew and end James Cowser. Sims and Killebrew were taken in the first five rounds of the NFL draft and Cowser signed a free-agent contract.

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Five SUU players were named to the preseason All-Big Sky team: tight end Stephen Wroblewski, receiver Mike Sharp, defensive tackles Chance Bearnson, linebacker Mike Needham and punter Tate Lewis. SUU opens the season Sept. 1 at Utah.

Weber State visits Utah State the same night, trying to build on last year’s 6-5 record as coach Jay Hill enters his third season. The Wildcats’ all-conference picks include offensive guard Cameron Young, offensive tackle Calvin Steyn, linebacker Emmett Tela and cornerback Taron Johnson.

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