After a historic 2017 football season for Weber State, coaches and media are predicting that success to carry over into the upcoming 2018 season.
During the Big Sky Conference Kickoff event in Spokane, Washington on July 16, WSU was voted by coaches and media to finish in second place in 2018.
The voting consisted of 13 coaches and 55 media members. Both the coaches and media pegged Eastern Washington as the preseason conference favorites.
“I’ve never put much stock into the rankings, whether we are ranked low preseason or high preseason,” Weber State head coach Jay Hill said. “It’s fun for the fans, fun for the media, but bottom line, when we kick off, we’re going to have to tackle and block and do all the things that great football teams do. So hopefully we don’t put much stock into it.”
A common statement coming from the Wildcats has been the fact players and coaches are not going to reflect on past successes, but will focus on improving this upcoming year.
Returning senior and pre-season All-American Iosua Opeta had a similar opinion to Hill.
“Honestly, I try not to think about that stuff too much, because the only thing that matters is how we come out and play this season,” Opeta said. “That will define where we are truly at.”
The Wildcats received three first-place votes during the kickoff event.
Weber State is coming off its best season in school history. The ‘Cats tied for a Big Sky regular-season title, won a school-record 11 regular season games, and added two more wins in the FCS Playoffs before falling 31–28 to eventual champion James Madison.
By season’s end, Weber State was ranked fifth nationally, the highest in school history.
After the success they experienced last season and with the prediction for them to finish second in the Big Sky, they will have a target on their backs. Having six pre-season all-conference players could help them rise to the occasion in their hopes to win the Big Sky.
“Getting our players to buy into what got us to where we were last year is going to be critical,” Hill said. “Then we need to improve on a couple things … and we have a chance to be really good.”
Returning senior linebacker LeGrand Toia was named a pre-season All-American, and he is ready to help the younger players on the team grow.
“I’m excited to see where our team goes. Coming out strong from last year and building on that.” Toia said. “Listen to the coaches and buy into the process. If we don’t do that, we’re not going to get anywhere.”
The Wildcats open the 2018 season against Utah on Aug. 30. Weber State’s home opener will be Sept. 15 against South Dakota, with kickoff set for 6 p.m. at Stewart Stadium.