SIAC Football Media Day 2022 sees high expectations from new coaches, defending champs

ATLANTA – The College Football Hall of Fame held this year’s SIAC Football Media Day with each conference’s head coach and top offensive and defensive players representing their school, including the defending SIAC champions, Albany State, which will have all eyes on them going into the 2022 season.

“For us it’s just about getting better,” ASU head football coach Gabe Giardina said. “We try not to put the pressure on our guys to think about that stuff, so the pressure I do put on them is about making good decisions and being great men. … So that’s what we’re going to focus on.”

For ASU linebacker Stephan Pierre, however, he sees this year’s group as a team that can repeat.

“I see a lot of fire in a lot of players,” Pierre said. “Over the summer we can kind of tell what kind of season we’ll have … and I can kind of tell everybody’s still hungry, everybody wants more, and we want to keep what we have going on.”

The SIAC Media Day also featured the annual predicted order of finish – ASU projected to win the East and Miles College projected to win the West – recognition of the end of the year awards, and the list of preseason all-conference honors, with ASU QB Dionte Bonneau selected as the Preseason Player of the Year.

“It’s a great recognition but it’s just fuel to my fire,” Bonneau said. “It’s going to make me work harder, and I know it’s something I got to basically earn. It wasn’t given to me yet, so it’s just fuel added to my fire to make me work harder to earn it.

Bonneau finished last year with over 2,000 passing yards and 21 total touchdowns as he led the Golden Rams to the SIAC championship. His goal for his final year? To be even better.

“It’s just a starting block,” he said. “I want to double both of those stats this year and it’s just working day by day and trying to get better every day. I feel like it’ll all pay off once it’s time.”

Looking to stop ASU from repeating as champs is Miles College, who’s defeated the Golden Rams four times in the championship over the last 10 years, prior to 2021.

They’ll have a new head coach stepping up, however, as Samuel Shade was announced as the Golden Bears coach back in January, and he already knows what it’s going to take for the Bears to get back to the championship.

“We just got to go out and be the best team we can be,” Shade said. “In football, each team is different. This will be the 2022 edition of Miles College football team. Not the 2021 or 2020, but 2022.”

Shade isn’t the only first-year coach in the SIAC either, as Central State, Clark Atlanta, Savannah State, Tuskegee, and even Fort Valley State’s Shawn Gibbs, who wants to see his team sitting back at the championship table at the end of the season, as the Wildcats haven’t been or won the title since 2013.

“Right now we’re just trying to get these guys to understand the standard, understand my philosophy, and understand the brand of football that I want to play,” Gibbs said. “We’re getting closer each and every day, but we still have a long way to go.”

SIAC football kicks off September 3 with ASU taking on Mississippi College.