Cowboys land six on preseason SLC team

Jim Gazzolo, Special to the American Press

Defense leads the way for McNeese State as the Southland Conference names six Cowboys to the preseason all-conference team.

Defensive end Isaiah Chambers leads a group of four Cowboys named to the team from that side of the football. Chambers is one of three McNeese players to make the first team.

Chambers is joined by his line partner Mason Kinsey and defensive back Andre Sam on the first team. Chris Joyce, Sam’s secondary partner, wide receiver Josh Matthews and punt returner Mason Pierce were named to the second team the league announced Thursday, a week prior to Media Day.

The six are tied with the least amount of players named to the teams with Houston Baptist. McNeese finished 3-4 last spring, winning two of its last three, including an upset of No. 11 Nicholls.

Southeastern led the number of players named to the preseason teams with 16 while Incarnate Word has 15.

The league’s reigning conference Defensive Player of the Year from last spring, Chambers was a consensus All-American. He finished fourth in voting for the Buck Buchanan Award which goes to the top defensive player in the nation on the Football Championship Subdivision level.

During the seven-week spring season Chambers, a transfer from Houston, was named the SLC’s Defensive Player of the Week. He led the conference in sacks with 7.5, good for second in the nation.

Chambers finished the spring with 32 tackles and 11 quarterback hurries.

“He’s an outstanding leader for our defense, with the way he is humble, the way he works,” McNeese defensive coordinator Deron Wilson said last year about Chambers. “He comes to practice and is the hardest worker, but a better person. He’s the guy you want as a leader of your team.”

Kinsley had four sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss last spring. He started all seven games for the Cowboys, recording 38 tackles and seven quarterback hurries.

Sam, a redshirt junior from Iowa, led the Cowboys with 52 tackles and three interceptions. He finished the season strong, with two interceptions against the soon-to-be national champion Sam Houston State in the finale.

Matthews, a transfer from Louisiana Tech, had 32 catches for 458 yards and four touchdowns. He came into his own in the home finale against No. 11 Nicholls with 147 yards and two touchdowns on seven catches.

Matthews averaged 14.3 yards a catch.

Joyce had 15 pass break-ups and 27 tackles in the spring. Pierce averaged 20.9 yards per return to go with eight catches for 125 yards and three scores.

McNeese opens the season at home on Sept. 4 against West Florida.

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