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Big Sky coaches, media favor Eastern

College football: Defending national champion Eastern Washington edged Montana State as the choice to win the Big Sky Conference football title in two polls, the conference announced Tuesday.

Eastern won six first-place votes and 60 points in the coaches’ poll. MSU received the other three first-places votes and 57 points.

Media members gave Eastern 29 first-place votes and 430 points while the Bobcats received 19 and 414.

EWU’s home opener is Sept. 24 against MSU.

The Eagles and Bobcats both finished 7-1 in conference last season, but MSU won the regular-season battle 30-7 in Bozeman. Following that setback, Eastern, guided by quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell (pictured above), won 11 consecutive games and the NCAA Division I Championship.

Eastern, which finished 13-2 last year, returns 15 starters and 52 letterwinners for coach Beau Baldwin.

“It starts over again, no matter what it says on paper and whatever comments are made that we look better entering 2011 than we did in 2010,” Baldwin said.

Montana, which had won or shared the last 12 Big Sky titles before last season, was picked third in both polls. Sacramento State is ranked fourth in both polls.

Vick brings message to D.C.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick brought his anti-dogfighting message to Congress, backing legislation that would penalize those who knowingly attend animal fights and allow minors to attend.

Vick, who served 18 months in prison on dogfighting charges, said he wants to teach kids not to repeat his mistakes and to take profits away from sponsors of these events.

The football star has been speaking at churches and schools along with Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive officer of the Humane Society of the United States. Pacelle told the news conference, “I had a lot of soul searching to do” before deciding to partner with Vick in efforts to stop animal fighting events.

“Help us to reach out to these kids before they go down the wrong path,” Vick said.

The Hampton, Va. native said that while he became involved in dogfighting in his youth, he was unaware that more children are attending these events. He said his experience taught him that attending animal fights has an impact on children.

“It’s up to the parents to take responsibility and make sure it doesn’t happen,” he said.

Sponsors of the legislation said the laws against animal fighting need to be strengthened.

It is illegal in 49 states to be a knowing spectator at an animal fight.

Associated Press

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