11-25 Playoff Game (Josh-Ariana) (1 of 9).JPG
Safety Trey Hoskins, left, and the rest of the 'Cats prepare themselves for the coming game. (Joshua Wineholt / The Signpost)

At the Big Sky Football Media Kickoff, in Spokane, Washington, Weber State University led the Big Sky Conference with seven players named to the Football Preseason All-Conference Team.

Head coach Jay Hill spoke to media at the event and shared his outlook for the upcoming season.

“We’ve been in the right place at the right time,” Hill said. “We’ve done a good job of taking care of the ball, and we’ve got good players, obviously.”

Hill’s tenure as head coach has built a program that improves each year, and with the seven players named as all-conference selections, the upcoming season should continue that upward trend.

The three seniors named to the team were defensive ends Adam Rodriguez and Jonah Williams alongside linebacker Auston Tesch.

The team also includes junior receiver and kick returner Rashid Shaheed, junior offensive guard Ty Whitworth and junior kicker Trey Tuttle.

Shaheed described what has helped him achieve his success as a kick returner.

“The scheme, vision, knowing where my guys are going to be blocking and who they’re going to be blocking,” Shaheed said. “My coaches do a great job of setting up a game plan to make it real easy when we step out there.”

The only sophomore named to the team was running back Josh Davis. He received multiple honors for his stellar freshman season, including the Jerry Rice Award for the most outstanding freshman in Division I FCS.

“I really can’t say enough about the players and how they’ve bought into me as a coach, our program and what we’re trying to accomplish,” Hill said. “It’s led to success the past couple of years.”

The seven Wildcats selected for the Preseason All-Conference Team received All-Big Sky honors after last year’s campaign.

Hill, Shaheed and Williams represented the Wildcats at the Media Kickoff and during the event.

At the Media Kickoff, preseason rankings were released from both the coaches and media. In both polls, the Wildcats were picked to finish third in the Big Sky behind rivals Eastern Washington and UC Davis.

The Wildcats received 124 total points in the coaches poll but did not receive any first place votes. In the media poll, they finished with 471 points and four first place votes.

Hill believes that preseason rankings have no bearing on where the team will finish at the end of the season and anticipates that a strong coaching foundation will bring great success to his team.

“Our goals every year are to win a conference championship and to get into the playoffs and win games. Now we have to take the next step and get further in the playoffs,” Hill said. “Our key is continuing to build on what has brought us success in the past and find a way to get better. If we do that, we should be right there, contending for a third conference title.”

Although the Wildcats have a lot of returning offensive weapons, the defense will look to replace last season’s seniors from its vaunted lineup. Seven defensive players graduated with first-team All-Big Sky honors. Despite the defensive player turnover, they will look to repeat last season’s effort, where they allowed a league-low 21.2 points and 319.6 yards per game.

Williams expects the Wildcats’ strong defense to continue in the upcoming season.

“Our goal going into it is just making (our opponent’s) offense one-sided. If we can take away the rush and get a pass, that’s just a better ball for us. That’s our goal going into it,” Williams said.

The Wildcats’ season kicks off August 31 at San Diego State. Their home opener takes place September 7 against Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo.

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