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Dixie State football: Trailblazers picked 5th in 2019 RMAC preseason coaches poll

Senior running back Sei-J Lauago, left, Dixie State head football coach Paul Peterson and senior linebacker Alex Lilliard take the podium on Wednesday at the 2019 RMAC Kickoff.
Senior running back Sei-J Lauago, left, Dixie State head football coach Paul Peterson and senior linebacker Alex Lilliard take the podium on Wednesday at the 2019 RMAC Kickoff.
Keric Seegmiller, Dixie State Athletics

Dixie State football was picked to finish fifth in the 2019 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference preseason coaches poll, while senior running back Sei-J Lauago and senior linebacker Alex Lilliard were each named to the league’s Preseason Players to Watch list.

The poll and watch list were both announced on Wednesday at the RMAC Football Kickoff at the Denver Broncos’ UCHealth Training Center. Head coach Paul Peterson, Lauago and Lilliard represented the Trailblazers at the event, answering press conference and one-on-one questions in advance of the upcoming season.

CSU-Pueblo (100 points, 10 first-place votes) was tabbed as the preseason favorite to win the conference, followed by Colorado School of Mines (88 points, one first-place vote) at No. 2, and Chadron State (73 points) at No. 3. Colorado Mesa (No. 4, 72 points) and the Trailblazers (No. 5, 68 points) rounded out the Top-5 in the preseason poll.

The RMAC also announced its new Preseason Players to Watch list, which replaced the former Preseason All-RMAC Team. Two players were identified from each team to form the list. Lauago and Lilliard represented Dixie State as 2019 Players to Watch.

Lauago rushed for 820 yards and eight touchdowns during the 2019 season to become DSU's career rushing leader with 1,773 total rushing yards. He also caught 28 passes for 312 yards to post a team-best 1,132 all-purpose yards.

Lilliard recorded 48 tackles, including 4.5 tackles for loss, and assisted on one sack. He also logged one interception and posted three pass breakups.

The Trailblazers return seven starters on offense from the record-setting 2018 squad, including Lauago as the team’s leading rusher, and senior receiver Dejuan Dantzler, who logged 46 receptions for 932 yards and seven touchdowns to lead DSU in receiving. Defensively, Dixie State returns three starters from a year ago, led by Lilliard and senior defensive back Darren Jones, who finished with 39 tackles and 13 pass breakups in 2018.

Dixie State begins its fourth and final season in the RMAC inside Trailblazer Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 7, welcoming in preseason-favorite CSU-Pueblo. The Trailblazers will then open a season-long, three-game road swing, stopping first at Fort Lewis on Saturday, Sept. 14. DSU will continue the road trip the following week at New Mexico Highlands on Saturday, Sept. 21, followed by a matchup at South Dakota Mines on Saturday, Sept. 28.

The Trailblazers will return to St. George for a two-game homestand, beginning with an RMAC battle against Black Hills State on Saturday, Oct. 5, before hosting former Great Northwest Athletic Conference foe Simon Fraser in non-conference action on Saturday, Oct. 12.

Dixie State will travel to Western Colorado on Saturday, Oct. 19, before returning to Trailblazer Stadium for a homecoming showdown against Chadron State on Saturday, Oct. 26, marking a stretch of three of its final four games at home. DSU will welcome in Colorado Mesa (Nov. 2) the following week, before closing its road slate at Colorado School of Mines (Nov. 9).

The Trailblazers will wrap up the regular season with a Senior Day matchup against Adams State on Saturday, Nov. 16.

Dixie State will open fall camp on Friday, Aug. 9. Updates will be released throughout the duration of the camp, and a complete preseason release will precede the season-opener against CSU-Pueblo on Sept. 7.