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Ponder named to preseason all conference football team
By Staff
Jul 20, 2017, 11:34

Ponder named to preseason
all conference football team

FRISCO, Texas – Central Arkansas and Sam Houston State led the way in the 2017 Southland Football Preseason All-Conference selections, the league announced Thursday. The Bears earned a dozen selections while the Bearkats earned 11.
Central Arkansas can look forward to more strong defensive performances this season as they enter this season with seven picks on the preseason all-conference defense teams. Senior defensive backs Tremon Smith, George Odum and Jaylon Lofton were named to the first team along with defensive lineman Cardell Best and punter Patrick Ponder.

Ponder, a former Bay High School standout and junior college first team All American at Jones Junior College, punted 66 times last season for an average of 41.29 yards. He had 17 punts over 50 yards each and had 19 downed within the 20 yard line.
Defensive lineman Chris Terrell and punt returner Tremon Smith earned spots on the second team defense.
On the offensive end, the Bears return senior quarterback Hayden Hildebrand and running back Carlos Blackman. Leading their charge will be three offensive lineman selections – Stockton Mallett and John Cook to first team and Gilberto Garcia to second team.

The University of Central Arkansas Bears were picked second in the 2017 Southland Conference preseason football poll released Thursday as part of SLC Media Day activities held at the Hilton Americas. 

It was the same spot the Bears finished in the conference race last fall en route to a 10-3 overall record and a home FCS Playoff victory over Illinois State. UCA, which finished 8-1 in league play, won 10 Division I games for the first time since moving to NCAA Division I in 2006. The only SLC loss was to first-place Sam Houston State, which was picked to repeat as SLC champions in the poll of league coaches and sports information directors.

The Bearkats received 200 total votes, including 20 first-place votes. UCA had 177 total and was the only other team to receive any first-place votes with two.

“It’s good recognition for the players, said UCA head coach Steve Campbell, entering his fourth season with the Bears. “But we all know, the one that counts is the one at the end of the year. Our goal every year is to win the conference. The polls are fun for the fans to look at and get the conversion started about the upcoming season, but really they don’t mean a whole lot.

“Last year we were picked third or fourth in the preseason, and then the last week of the season we had a chance to win the championship. That’s where we want to be every year.’

“I think the poll may set expectations for the players,’ said Campbell. “But our expectations were high to begin with before the poll ever came out. I guess it says there are other people that think we have a chance to be pretty good, too. But those don’t win you any games.’

    The Bears open the 2017 season at Big 12 Kansas State on Saturday, Sept. 2 in Manhattan, Kan. Their home opener will also be their conference opener against Southeastern Louisiana on Saturday, Sept. 16. UCA will host four of the top six teams this fall at First Security Field at Estes Stadium (No. 1 SHSU, No. 3 McNeese State, No. 4. Southeastern, No. 6 Stephen F. Austin).


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