Orediggers picked to finish second in RMAC

Brian Miller
Posted 8/10/12

COLORADO SPRINGS - The word “excited” was thrown around so many times Monday morning at the annual Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Football …

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Orediggers picked to finish second in RMAC

COLORADO SPRINGS - The word “excited” was thrown around so many times Monday morning at the annual Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Football Media Day, it was as if Tim Tebow were in the room giving an introductory press conference.
The event is the unofficial kickoff for the upcoming 2012 college football season, and each of the conference’s 10 coaches were in attendance at the Marriott hotel in Colorado Springs, along with a couple dozen players.
In a move that surprised no one, defending RMAC champion CSU-Pueblo was picked to finish first in the preseason poll by the coaches, receiving nine of the 10 first-place votes.
The Thunderwolves were undefeated in the 2011 regular season, achieving the No. 1 ranking in NCAA Division II before being upended in their playoff opener.
“Last year was last year,” CSU-Pueblo coach John Wristen said. “It’s over with.”
Colorado School of Mines was selected to finish second in the conference. The Orediggers return 19 starters and seniors Cody Renken (wide receiver), David Pawelek (tight end) and Taylor Accardi (punter) were named to the preseason all-RMAC squad.
Accardi, after leading the nation in punting average at 48.5 yards in 2011, is the preseason MVP on special teams.
“It’s really starting to hit now that it’s football season,” Accardi said. “We’ve been working hard all summer and now it’s time to get out there and get things done.”
Players begin reporting this weekend and fall camp opens Monday.
The Orediggers start the season Saturday, Sept. 1 at Campbell Field against William Jewell College.
Mines will have a new starting quarterback this fall in sophomore Matt Brown, who split time between wide receiver and backing up Clay Garcia at quarterback in 2011.
Much of the rest of the starting offense is back, including running back Dan Palmer, and the team will get a boost with the return of Renken, who broke his leg in the first quarter of the 2011 opener.
The defense also is experienced despite the graduation of linebacker Alex Vigil and defensive back Bunmi Adetutu. Accardi is back at punter and red-shirt freshman Avery Llewellyn takes over kicking duties.
The RMAC has undergone some changes since the spring season ended in May. The University of Nebraska-Kearney moved to the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) for the 2012-13 season, and the RMAC welcomed Black Hills State in UNK’s stead.
Two new football coaches were introduced - Russ Martin at Colorado Mesa and Jay Long at Chadron State - and two colleges have achieved university status with Western State Colorado University and Adams State University.
One interesting note that was discussed Monday at Media Day was the possibility that this could be Mines’ final year playing at their current facility. Preliminary plans are in place for funding to be used to build a football complex.
Mines Athletic Director Tom Spicer said things are in the works as of right now but that there are still some details that need to be ironed out.
Spicer added that hopefully in six months construction could begin on the facility, with the 2014 season the target opening.
Mines coach Bob Stitt said a new facility would help recruiting, but it would also give the players a home of their own.
“It’s going to be bigger for retention. It’s giving our team a homebase on campus which they’ve never had,” he said. “We’ve never had meeting rooms, our coaches don’t have offices. Our locker room is cement floor.
“It just takes us to the next level and legitimizes our program. As people in the RMAC continue to upgrade facilities, I think it’s going to help the reputation of our conference and help us get more teams in the playoffs.”


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