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Pac Western Starts

College Men

Pac Western Starts

UC Davis won DIAA last year, but a lot has changed since then (Austin Brewin photo).

You might think that the defending national DIAA champions would be favored to win their conference, but that’s not necessarily the case in the Pacific Western Conference.

UC Davis might have won it all in 2014-15, but they graduated over a dozen seniors, and the remaining players decided to dismiss their coach, Mike Purcell. The former Eagle and the current players apparently didn’t see eye-to-eye on philosophy, and now Kal Incendy is the coach of the Aggies with Michael Taylor and Nick Conaghan assisting.

A coaching change isn’t always evidence of turmoil, but it is reason to think things won’t be smooth for Davis early on.

Still, Davis competed well at the Storer Classic this past weekend.

“The team is far from flawless, but we learned a lot from our wins and losses over the weekend and we are gearing up for our league opener at Sacramento State,” said club administrator Cole Collings. “We feel this team has  a lot of promise and potential, with a lot of experience and leadership in both our forward pack and our backline.”

Sac State also has some thoughts about contending, and with things changing at Davis, it seems like this conference is up for grabs.

Stanford, now under coach Josh Sutcliffe, is thinking about returning to the top of the conference. Their recent loss to Santa Clara 42-29 was an indication of some positives.

“It was a pretty tightly contest match with the momentum changing just before halftime, we missed our kick for touch and they scored,” said Sutcliffe. “They had a big start to the second half and we kept coming but didn’t quite have the legs to get it done.”

But, there’s reason to be optimistic, and Stanford starts at Fresno State this weekend.

Chico State hosts San Jose State, and this is a chance for CSU to put down a marker. Coach Lucas Bradbury was pleased with his team’s pre-season efforts against Cal Poly and Oregon.

They have just finished three weeks of intense training, and an experienced group has welcomed some talented freshmen, several from the solid Dixon HS program.

“The nucleus of our roster is about 40 players who have more than four years’ experience,” said Bradbury. “I am very happy with the numbers we have and the experience we have.”

Leading the way is prop and captain Lance Hubbard, a smart and tough player with, said Bradbury, “a cool head.” At vice captain is Tommy Patton, who is another strong leader.

Chico is usually at or near the top of the conference and has made the national playoffs before. In the end, said Bradbury, it might come down to injuries.

“If we’re able to keep our top 23 fit and healthy then they can have the opportunity to really learn to play together as a unit.”

This weekend's games:

Nevada at UC Santa Cruz
UC Davis at Sacramento State
Stanford at Fresno
San Jose State at Chico State