“One Century Down”: CIAA Football Week One Preview
By: Shawn Warren, CIAA Media Assistant
Game for Thursday, August 30, 2012
Shaw University Bears @ University of Charleston Golden Eagles
The Robert Massey era begins when the Shaw Bears travel to West Virginia to take on the University of Charleston. Massey, a long time Shaw assistant coach, takes over for Darrell Asberry who departed for Texas Southern. Massey’s number one priority will be restoring the Bears’ championship luster. After winning three CIAA titles from 2007 to 2010, the Bears fell to an uncharacteristic 3-7 in 2011. Despite having the top defensive unit in the CIAA last season, the Bears sputtered offensively and got off to a 0-4 start that they never recovered from. Expect defense to be the Bears’ calling card again this season. Leading the unit will be preseason All-CIAA defensive back Darnell Evans, who led Shaw with six interceptions in 2011. On offense, quarterback Quinshon Odom returns. Odom passed for 1,581 yards and 13 touchdowns last year. Also back, is dangerous kick return specialist James Langford who averaged a whopping 37.1 yards per return…tops in Division II and scored three touchdowns. Langford was also the Bears’ leading rusher with 270 yards and three touchdowns. The Golden Eagles of the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference were 5-6 last season. They feature versatile tailback Jordan Roberts, a 1,400- yard rusher, who ranked No. 3 in Division II with 206.7 all-purpose yards and No. 10 with 130 rushing yards per game last year. Roberts also scored 18 touchdowns. Kickoff is 7:00 pm on Thursday, August 30.
Games for Saturday, September 1, 2012
UNC-Pembroke Braves @ Winston-Salem State University Rams (Game of the Week)
There was a lot of eye rolling and whispers of disbelief at last season’s CIAA preseason press luncheon when Winston-Salem State coach Connell Maynor stepped to the microphone and boldly predicted that his team would go 15-0 and win the Division II national championship. By the end of the season, Maynor’s prediction had him looking more like Nostradamus than a football coach. The high-octane Rams made believers out of the naysayers as they rolled to an undefeated regular season, a CIAA title, an historic run through the Division II playoffs, and the school’s first ever SBN Black College National Championship. The Rams’ dream season ended with a heartbreaking 21-14 loss to Wayne State in the national semifinals, but they still finished with a remarkable 13-1 record- the most wins by an HBCU in a single season. Despite coming up short of Maynor’s lofty predictions, the Rams posted, arguably, one of the best seasons in the history of Black College football and enter the 2012 campaign firmly entrenched as the team to beat in the CIAA. Back to lead the way for the Rams is All-CIAA quarterback Kameron Smith. Smith, a redshirt senior, passed for a school record 2,706 yards and 33 touchdowns and ably guided an offense that averaged 420 yards and nearly 40 points a game. Also back is one of Smith’s primary targets in Tehvyn Brantley, who led a balanced receiving corps with 43 receptions and seven touchdowns. The biggest question mark for the Rams in 2012 will be who will replace workhorse tailback Nicholas Cooper. Cooper rushed for over 1,800 yards and a conference-high 22 touchdowns last season. Look for Maurice Lewis to step in as the Rams’ feature back. Lewis, a sophomore, rushed for 528 yards as Cooper’s primary backup last season. Defensively, the Rams must replace rover back Alton Keaton. Keaton, last year’s CIAA Defensive Player of the Year, led the team with 104 tackles. Back to anchor the defense are junior Carlos Fields, a second team All-CIAA performer, who racked up 81 tackles and 4.5 sacks from his linebacker position last season and safety Malcolm Rowe, who logged 66 total tackles, four interceptions, and six pass breakups. Up first for their shot at taking down the Rams will be UNC-Pembroke. UNC-P will likely have revenge on their minds after the Rams traveled to Pembroke’s Johnson Stadium last November and thoroughly outclassed the Braves 34-7- knocking them out of playoff contention. Offensively, UNC-Pembroke is led by quarterback Luke Charles, who passed for 2,978 yards and 25 touchdowns last season. Preseason All-American linebacker Fred Williams, who racked up 113 tackles and 3 sacks in 2011, leads the Braves’ defense. WSSU kicks off the 2012 season at 6:00 pm at Bowman Gray Stadium. Live Stream: www.Livestream.com/wssu
Assumption Greyhounds @ Bowie State University Bulldogs
The Bulldogs began with an encouraging 3-0 start last season, but went 1-6 the rest way for a disappointing 4-6 finish. The 2012 squad returns 15 starters so there is reason for optimism. On offense, nine starters return, but Coach Damon Wilson must find an able replacement for versatile dual-threat quarterback Clifton Budd, who accounted for nearly 1,400 yards of total offense and 12 touchdowns. Budd was all over the field for BSU. He was the Bulldogs’ leading passer, second leading rusher, and fourth leading receiver. While the passing game searches for its identity, look for Wilson to rely on running backs Ramono Flowers and Keith Brown, who combined for over 600 rushing yards last season, to be key cogs in his offense. Defensively, BSU must replace six starters, but returns leading linebacker Bekewele Amadi. Amadi led the Bulldogs with 89 tackles in 2011. Also back is Delante White, who registered 49 tackles and four interceptions. Assumption, from the Northeast-10 Conference, is coming off a 4-6 season in 2011. The Greyhounds return six first team All-Northeast-10 Conference players including free safety Sonny Dillinger (51 tackles, 3.5 sacks), defensive end Nick Haag (45 tackles, 7.5 sacks), and junior running back Matt Pedone (1,449 all-purpose yards). Bowie State won last year’s matchup 28-7. Kickoff is 1:00 pm at Bulldogs Stadium. Live Stats: http://www.sidearmstats.com/bowie/football/scoreboard.aspx
Benedict Panthers @ Virginia Union University Panthers
The Panthers look to take the first step to improving on last season’s 5-5 record when they play host to the Benedict Tigers. Leading rusher Jerrell Washington returns as the focal point of the Panthers’ ground game. Washington put together a solid freshman season, rushing for 610 yards and six touchdowns. Sophomore defensive end Kentrell Harris leads an experienced defensive unit. Harris was fifth in the league with 8.5 sacks as a freshman. Also back is Obi Ezemma who was second on the team with 68 tackles and defensive back Brian Smith who had 46 tackles and two interceptions in 2011. Benedict is coming off a 2-8 season in 2011. They are led by preseason All-SIAC defensive lineman Dyrell Porcha (35 tackles, 2.5 TFL; 2012). Kickoff is 7:00 pm at VUU’s Hovey Field.
Cheyney Wolves @ Lincoln University (PA) Lions
Lincoln University, PA
Even though the Lions are coming off a 2-8 season, optimism abounds on LUP’s campus. On offense, the Lions return sophomore quarterback Doug Cook, a CIAA All-Rookie selection in 2011. As a freshman, Cook displayed talent and poise beyond his years, passing for 2,054 yards and 12 touchdowns. Despite Cook’s stellar passing numbers, the lack of an effective running game hindered the Lions’ offensive production. Gerald Swain, the team’s leading rusher last season with 215 yards and three touchdowns, returns but the Lions will need more production from the position to keep the load off Cook. While the ground game searches for its identity, Cook will have the luxury of having his two favorite receiving targets back for another season in Matthew Coston (54 receptions, 821 yard, 7 touchdowns) and Phillip Jean-Juste (57 receptions for 526). Lincoln’s defensive unit is built around All-America defensive end Tim Green, who led NCAA Division II with 17 sacks and was fourth on the team with 56 tackles in 2011. Green should get plenty of support from linebacker Kenny Johnson (38 tackles, 8 sacks) and defensive back Tyhir Mitchell (31 tackles, 1 sack). Cheyney University was 1-10 last season with their lone victory coming in a 21-19 home win over Lincoln. The Lions will do battle with Cheyney in their brand new on-campus stadium in the “Battle of the First” Classic, a matchup of the nation’s two oldest HBCUs on Saturday, September 1 at 1:00 pm.
Chowan University Hawks @ Livingstone University Blue Bears
The Chowan Hawks travel to Salisbury for a cross-divisional match-up with the Livingstone Blue Bears.
The Hawks, 3-7 in 2011, are led by All-CIAA wide receiver Robert Holland. Holland led the conference with 67 receptions for 914 yards and 13 touchdowns. Throwing passes to Holland again this year will be quarterback Cameron Stover. Stover led the CIAA in passing yards per game (235.1) and threw for 1,881 yards and 19 touchdowns. On defense, linebackers Jason Ampy (90 tackles and 5 sacks last year) and T.J. Batchelor (five sacks) return for the 2012 campaign. Livingstone, 1-9 last season, will look to preseason All-CIAA selections Tyheim Pitt and Terry Anderson for leadership. Pitt, a junior linebacker, was a tackling machine last season for the Blue Bears registering 105 tackles. Anderson provides Livingstone with big play potential on special teams. He led the CIAA with 528 return yards and averaged 27.8 yards a return. He returned two kickoffs for touchdowns including a 100-yarder against Virginia University of Lynchburg. Kickoff is 6:00 pm at Livingstone’s Alumni Memorial Stadium.
Elizabeth City State University Vikings @ Newberry Wolves
The defending Northern Division champions travel to South Carolina to take on the Newberry Wolves in their season opener. Last season, after dropping their first two games to nationally ranked Delta State and Winston-Salem State, the Vikings reeled off eight consecutive wins to clinch a berth in the CIAA Championship Game and an at-large bid to the Division II playoffs. The Vikings finished the season with losses in the CIAA title game and the first round of the playoffs, but expectations are high in Elizabeth City. One reason for the optimism is the return of tailback Daronte McNeill. McNeill, the CIAA Offensive Player of the Year and All-America selection, rushed for a school-record 1,647 yards and 22 touchdowns as the focal point of the Vikings’ offense. Joining McNeill in the backfield will be Kevin Swain who rushed for 659 yards in 2011. The defense will be built around a trio of All-CIAA performers, defensive back Nigel Rios (43 tackles, 5 interceptions), defensive end Brad Davis (42 tackles, 11 sacks), and cornerback Josh Brooks (37 tackles, 2 interceptions). Newberry was 4-6 last season and will return 15 starters. Wolves to watch include four preseason All-South Atlantic Conference picks in running back John Gadson, offensive lineman Lequawn James, linebacker Apollo Stretch and defensive back David Davis. Kickoff is 6:30 pm at Newberry’s Setzler Field.
Fayetteville State University Broncos @ North Carolina Central Eagles
Fayetteville State, an uncharacteristic 4-6 in 2011, travels to Durham to take on former CIAA rival North Carolina Central. Last year, the Broncos opened the season with a brutal stretch of games against UNC-Pembroke, Carson-Newman, Elizabeth City State, and Winston-Salem State…a murderers’ row of playoff caliber teams. When the smoked cleared, the Broncos were 0-4 and never really recovered- even though they finished the season winning four of their last six games. The 2012 schedule is again frontloaded with tough teams, but with 17 returning starters, including nine on defense, the Broncos should be better equipped for the tough early season skirmishes. Among the returnees are quarterback Chauncey Concepcion (799 yards passing, 336 yards rushing, 6 touchdowns), safety Joshua Scales (31 tackles, 7 interceptions) and linebackers Bryce Williams (49 tackles) and Joseph McLean (38 tackles). The Eagles, now members of the FCS Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, are coming off a 2-9 season and return 14 starters (8 offensive/ 6 defensive) including a dangerous corps of receivers led by preseason All-MEAC pick Geovonie Irvine (47 receptions, 580 yards). The teams last met in 2008 with the Broncos picking up a 33-22 win in Durham. The Broncos and the Eagles kick off the 2012 season at 6:00 pm at NCCU’s O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium. Live Stats: http://www.fsubroncos.com/gametracker/launch/gt_mfootbl.html?event=1088147&school=fast&sport=mfootbl&camefrom=&startschool=&
Johnson C. Smith University Golden Bulls @ West Virginia State Yellow Jackets
The surprising turnaround of the Johnson C. Smith Golden Bulls was one of the biggest stories of the 2011 season. After a 2-8 finish in 2010, the Golden Bulls went 6-5 and won the Pioneer Bowl last season. With freshman quarterback Keahn Wallace running the offense, the Golden Bulls averaged 352 yards of offense and 27 points per game. Wallace finished with 2,005 passing, 473 rushing yards, accounted for 24 touchdowns, and was named game MVP after leading his team to a 35-33 win over Miles in the Pioneer Bowl. Wallace returns for his sophomore campaign, but gone are his top three receivers. If he wants to duplicate his 2011 numbers, he will need big contributions from wide out Matt Jefferies and tailback Dedrick Anderson. Jefferies is the Golden Bulls’ top returning receiver with 20 receptions for 345 yards and five touchdowns last season. Anderson was the team’s top rusher with 558 yards, but he was also one of Wallace’s most reliable pass catchers out of the backfield with 26 receptions. A veteran line led by All-CIAA selection Derrick Johnson, who logged 58 tackles and 11.5 sacks in 2011, will anchor Coach Steve Aycock’s defense. Also manning the defensive front are Darius Robinson (38 tackles) and Justin Smith (37 tackles). The linebackers should also be a strength led by All-CIAA selection Michael Coats. Coats led the team with 76 tackles and four interceptions. West Virginia State is coming off a 1-9 season, including a 64-27 loss to the Golden Bulls in last year’s season opener. Kickoff is 1:00 pm at Lakin Field on the campus of West Virginia State. Listen Live: http://www.wgnc.net/
Virginia State University Trojans @ Norfolk State Spartans
The Trojans followed up an appearance in the 2010 CIAA Championship game with a disappointing 5-5 campaign in 2011. Hopes of a return to the upper echelon of the Northern Division will rely heavily on the Trojans’ ability to improve their offensive production which saw them finish 11th in the 12-team league in total offense last season. Leading what coach Andrew Faison hopes will be a vastly improved offense will be junior quarterback Jarred Battle. Battle, a three-year starter, passed for 1,744 yards in 2011. He tossed eight touchdowns, but only completed 56 percent of his passes and threw 13 interceptions, so ball protection will be crucial to improved offensive production for the Men of Troy. One luxury Battle will have is the return of three of his top four receivers from a year ago in Dion Futch, Cory Young, and Alan Anderson who combined for 92 receptions, 1,016 yards, and five touchdowns. The Trojans lost several key defensive contributors, including All-CIAA linebacker Jeremy Pruitt, but return several multi-year starters including second leading tackler linebacker Bryce Willoughby and veteran linemen Rashad Vesprey and Darrell Young. The Trojans once again open the season against their longstanding in-state rival the Norfolk State Spartans in the Virginia Lottery Labor Day Classic. The highly touted Spartans, 9-3 a year ago, are the defending MEAC champions and are ranked in the Top 25 in several FCS preseason polls. The Spartans won last year’s game 37-3. This is the 50th meeting between the Trojans and the Spartans. VSU holds a 26-22-1 edge in the series, but the Spartans have won the last six. Kickoff is 6:00 pm at NSU’s Dick Price Stadium. Listen Live: http://www.mainstreamnetwork.com/listen/player.asp?station=wvst-fm&
Wingate Bulldogs @ Saint Augustine’s University Falcons
Durham, NC (Durham County Stadium)
The Falcons open the 2012 season hosting the Wingate Bulldogs of the South Atlantic Conference. The Falcons are coming off a 4-6 season, but return several experienced players on both sides of the ball.
Leading the way is quarterback Teddy Bacote, a 2,200-yard passer in 2011. Bacote completed 58 percent of his passes for 22 touchdowns. Bacote will again have his top two receivers at his disposal this season. Brian Richards caught 63 balls for 758 yards and eight touchdowns while the explosive Tyron Laughinghouse averaged 20.6 yards per reception on his 27 catches. All-CIAA linebacker Chaz Robinson, who tallied 101 tackles last season, will lead SAU’s defense. Antonio Stewart added 60 tackles from his linebacker position. Also back is lineman Shonquez Nelson who was second on the team with 66 tackles and added seven sacks and three interceptions. The Bulldogs were 5-6 last season and return receiver Chris Bowden, a Lindy’s Magazine pre-season first team All-American. Bowden caught 76 passes for 1,064 yards and nine touchdowns in 2011. Kickoff is set for 1:30 pm at Durham County Stadium. Live stats: http://www.sidearmstats.com/staug/football