East Penn Press

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PRESS FILE PHOTO Derrick Watkins started eight games last season at Lock Haven University. PRESS FILE PHOTO Derrick Watkins started eight games last season at Lock Haven University.

EHS is well represented in PSAC

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 by CJ HEMERLY Special to the Press in Sports

After Bloomsburg wrapped up the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference East Division chamionship in November, the focus was shifted to the 2014 and a new slate for each of the eight teams in the east.

All eight teams were represented by their head coach and two or three captains at the PSAC media day held last Monday afternoon at Kutztown University.

Each team was introduced by its respective sports information director, and that was followed by the preseason poll.

Picked to finish in first place with seven of the eight votes by the school's SID's was West Chester. East Stroudsburg is in second place receiving one vote. The remainder of the poll was Bloomsburg in third, followed by Shippensburg, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Millersville, and Cheyney.

There are three Green Hornets alumni on three different East Division teams that are upperclassmen and have contributed to their squads.

Senior defensive back Derrick Watkins is in his final year at Lock Haven, after playing in 10 of the 11 games, starting eight. He recorded 27 tackles with an interception and two forced fumbles. Watkins will be looked at again in a prominent role as a starting cornerback for the Bald Eagles.

"We expect that leadership out of him this year as a senior," said fourth-year head coach John Allen. "Everything that we've instilled into him as a young player, we want to see him show that. And that begins with hard work and taking on a leadership role for the younger players. So far I've seen good things out of him."

Lock Haven is coming off a 3-8 season, but Allen wants to see more of an increase in that win total. The Bald Eagles had two more victories in 2013 than they had in 2012.

The defending champ Bloomsburg Huskies feature redshirt senior quarterback Brady Knerr. At the start of fall camp, Knerr will be the primary backup to redshirt junior and captain Tim Kelly, who started all 12 games a season ago.

Knerr played in five games in 2013, completing three passes for 36 yards. An injury forced the former Green Hornet to sit out the spring game in April, but head coach Paul Darragh sees Knerr competing for playing time.

"Brady has tremendous knowledge of the game and understanding of the offense," said Darragh. "He is a natural leader and competitor. He will be ready for the season and will provide great depth and competition at the quarterback position."

The East Stroudsburg University Warriors finished 2013 in fourth place at 7-4, but with a ton of returning starters, the Warriors are picked second in the east division and have a lot to look forward to.

Junior quarterback Matt Soltes, a Harlon Hill award candidate last year, put up huge numbers, and is looking to put on a similar show this year.

A big part of his success, and the ESU offensive success comes in large part because of the protection the offensive line gives.

Junior Cody Laubach has started every game of his career at ESU (21 games), and helped lead a second-ranked offense in the PSAC in 2013. The Emmaus alum was named an All-PSAC East selection last season.

"He has good size at 6-5, 315 pounds," said head coach Denny Douds, in his 41st season at the helm. "It's exciting because he is only a junior and has been starting for us since day one. He has an idea of what needs to be done and how to get it done. Cody has the talent and experience to keep being really good for us."

The three former Green Hornets are primed to have big years in a competitive PSAC east, and will give the Emmaus faithful something to follow at Division II football come this fall.