Mavs football picked sixth in RMAC

COLORADO SPRINGS — The player press conference was just wrapping up for Colorado Mesa University on Monday when one final question was lobbed toward junior running back Jake Cimolino.

When asked what kind of individual goals he hoped to achieve in 2013, the Fort Bragg, Calif. native was quick to reply that all he really wanted was to win the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championship.

“I want a winning season. That’s my main goal. It’s an individual goal as well as it works for the team,” Cimolino said afterward during the RMAC Football Media Day at the Colorado Springs Marriott Hotel. “Of course I’ve looked at the records, I’ve seen them. Would it be nice to get them? Yeah, but that’s not my main goal.”

Colorado Mesa was picked to finish sixth in the Preseason Coaches Poll. After finishing 4-7 overall and 4-5 in the conference a year ago, the Mavericks understand there is some work to be done in order to move back into the upper echelon of the conference.

“We’ve got to learn to start finishing,” said Cimolino, who has rushed for 2,339 yards over the previous two seasons. “It was unacceptable for us to finish where we did. We’re going to do everything we can to turn that around.”

Colorado State University-Pueblo received six of the 10 first-place votes and is the favorite to defend its RMAC title. Nipping at the ThunderWolves’ heels is Chadron State, which received the other four first-place votes.

“We’ve got some work to do in 2013,” said CSU-Pueblo coach John Wristen, who had nine players selected to the preseason all-RMAC team, including Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Darius Allen and Special Teams Player of the Year Brandon Kliesen.

Chadron State had seven players chosen, with running back Glen Clinton honored as the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.

Colorado Mesa had three players selected to the preseason team, led by Cimolino and senior lineman Brett Boyer on offense. Senior linebacker Jake Edmiston was honored at linebacker, with coach Russ Martin saying he expects the Palisade graduate to the best defensive player in the conference this fall.

Martin, in his second year with CMU, wore a big smile Monday for what he said could be deemed the “unofficial kickoff” to the 2013 season. Players report to camp Monday, Aug. 12, one week before the school year begins.

“We’re very excited about getting the second year going,” Martin said. “The transition is a huge part. More than anything now the players have had a full year, plus a little bit more in it.

“Now we have guys who at least understand what’s going on so they can help each other grow, but also I think they’re starting to realize what their own expectations are and what they should be.”

The Mavericks return six starters on offense and seven on defense. The coach expects there to be some competition for playing time as the team prepares for the Sept. 7 opener against Menlo College at Stocker Stadium.

“About the first seven to eight practices are going to be really critical,” Martin said. “Once we get to that point we’re going to be making that decision, we’re going to be going with the guys we want to start preparing for their first game.”

After opening with Menlo, CMU travels to Bozeman, Mont. to play Montana State, then hits the road again the following week to open RMAC play at Chadron State.

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