Cal U football team rises to No. 15 in national poll

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Dawson Wright

After posting a shutout vs Mercyhurst on Oct. 2, the California University of Pennsylvania football team vaulted 10 spots to No. 15 in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Top 25 poll on Monday, Oct. 4, 2021

Dawson Wright, Contributor

(Oct. 8, 2021)  The California University of Pennsylvania football team has reached their highest national ranking since 2017. It was announced on Monday Oct. 4 that the Vulcans moved up to No. 15 in the American Football Coaches Association Top 25 poll, jumping up ten spots from the week prior. The Vulcans are undefeated in their first five games this season.

“We have collectively played as a team the best we have since I have been there (2018),” sophomore linebacker Gabe Miller said, “We are a very tight-knit group and demand a lot from each other.”

In their five games this season, Cal U’s defense has had three shutouts, tying for the most in school history in a single season dating back to 1958. The Vulcans have yet to allow a point at home.

“Our bond on that side of the ball is the key to our success,” sophomore defensive back Naszhir Taylor said, “also our motor, we love to work, and it shows up every Saturday.”

This past Saturday against Mercyhurst, the Vulcans completed a 37-0 shutout which included two interceptions returned for touchdowns by Kavon Morman and Noah Dillow in the second quarter. “It’s nothing that we don’t expect,” Dillow said, “It definitely set the tone and we were deserving that week.”

Multiple teammates noted Dillow as a standout on the defense this season. Dillow, a sophomore and also one of the team’s captains, has received PSAC Defensive Player of the Week honors multiple times this season.

Offensively the Vulcans have averaged over 30 points per game this season, but wide receiver JaQuae Jackson notes that there is “always room to improve,” and the Vulcans, “still haven’t played their best football yet.

In 2019 Cal U finished 7-4, just missing out on the playoffs, and they were never able to play a snap in 2020 due to COVID-19. This past spring however, the Vulcans were able to practice once again.

“It was huge for us to practice last spring,” Jackson said, “especially just because we got the season taken away from us. It showed us you can’t take this sport for granted…and we could prepare more to be ready when the season came back around.”