NSU football team excited about changes
TAHLEQUAH — Once the 2008 season was over, Northeastern State coach Kenny Evans hauled out the broom to clean house in the football program. He replaced all but one of his assistant coaches, estimated 40 players who were on the team last year are not in the program and brought in 58 new players (freshmen and transfers) for the 2009 season.
The wholesale changes make for a more optimistic outlook this season, which starts at 7 p.m. on Thursday against Arkansas Tech at Doc Wadley Stadium.
“The biggest thing to me is the night and day difference from a year ago,” said Evans, entering his second season. “You don’t go through (eight straight) losing seasons without something being wrong. A lot of things needed to be changed. The only thing that made it difficult I wasn’t able to bring in a staff on the same page as me. We were able to do that at end of last year. I’ve got the coaches I want and that will carry onto the field.”
Hill stresses education, right choices
Although his father didn’t learn how to read until he was 20 years old, the importance of education was stressed to Calvin Hill from an early age. On Sunday night, the former Dallas Cowboy great further stressed the importance of education when he talked to the Midwestern State football team.
Hill was the guest speaker for Midwestern State University’s third annual “Welcome Back Dinner” at the Clark Student Center and also had a private talk with the team preceding the dinner.
The former NFL Rookie of the Year and the Cowboys’ first 1,000-yard rusher also stressed to them the importance of thinking about their actions and the consequences of those actions.
Time to rebuild for LSC champ Abilene Christian
Chris Thomsen faces one of his greatest challenges since taking over the Abilene Christian University football program four years ago. Gone are three of the greatest players to ever don the purple and white — quarterback Billy Malone, running back Bernard Scott and receiver Johnny Knox.
Those three combined for 217 touchdowns and 19,951 yards during their careers with the Wildcats. The loss of Scott alone — last season’s Division II player of the year — represents a loss of 204 points from last season’s Lone Star Conference championship team. That’s a lot of firepower gone, yet Thomsen is excited about the Wildcats’ reconstruction.
“Obviously those are some of the best players that have ever played here and this conference,” he said. “But you look at the guys who are coming to take their place. I’m just as excited about getting to coach them as I was coaching those guys last year. I think it presents a new challenge, especially for our offensive staff and our program in general. Can we replace those guys and still continue to be effective? We’re really excited about that.”
Success makes rivals of ACU, West Texas A&M
For years, Abilene Christian University and West Texas A&M foundered in the Lone Star Conference. Then along came Chris Thomsen and Don Carthel — and one of the LSC’s fiercest rivalries quickly took shape.
“Whenever we play WT, it’s like the Dallas Cowboys against the 49ers, You know how those rivalries used to be,” ACU senior linebacker Bryson Lewis said. “It’s like Texas-OU. It’s just a good rivalry.”
Since Thomsen took over at ACU in 2005, the Wildcats have become one of the elite teams in the LSC. ACU reached the playoffs in 2006 for the first time since 1977. The Wildcats have qualified for the playoffs three consecutive years and reached the second round of the playoffs the past two years. The Wildcats have won 10 or more games the last two years. It’s the first time that’s ever happened in consecutive years in the program’s history.
PIGSKIN PREVIEW: Team in transition
With his squad coming off consecutive winless seasons in the Lone Star Conference South Division, fifth-year Eastern New Mexico University football coach Mark Ribaudo said it’s no surprise the Greyhounds were picked to finish last again this fall.
“We’ve got to do something about it,” he said. “That’s all there is to it.”
The Hounds (2-9, 0-6 South in 2008) began a major transition last season, going from a grind-it-out, triple-option style of offense to a more wide-open spread attack. Now, with a year under their belts, Ribaudo thinks improvement is on the horizon — even though the offense has no seniors on its two-deep chart.
Johnson adjusting well
ADA — During his first two seasons at East Central University, Marcus Johnson looked like he was born to be a quarterback in the spread offense. As a senior, he hopes to be reborn — this time as the quarterback of a winning football team.
Johnson flourished in Kurt Nichols’ pass-happy spread as a sophomore and junior, rewriting the ECU record books and establishing himself as one of the most celebrated and exciting players in the rugged Lone Star Conference. But individual success — he holds almost all of the schools’ career, single-season and single-game passing records after just two years — and postseason honors — he was named LSC North Division Offensive Player of the Year in both 2007 and 2008 — didn’t translate into victories.
So when Tim McCarty returned last winter to head a program that won just seven games in three seasons under Nichols, Johnson was more than willing to listen to what his new coach had to say. And with the Tigers’ 2009 season opener at Nebraska-Omaha just four days away, the marriage of the formerly free-wheeling Johnson and the more conventional McCarty appears to be working out just fine.
“I’m adjusting to it pretty good,” Johnson said of McCarty’s new offensive scheme, which requires its triggerman to play more under control and which will stress a running game that was almost an afterthought the past three seasons. “At first it was a little different, because I had never been under center much before. I’ve become a quarterback instead of a running back.”
LSC Fall Sports Preview Series: West Texas A&M
Scoring 68 points in the final game of the season, and not winning a championship is a rare thing, for any football team on any level. But it happened to West Texas A&M last year as the Buffaloes found themselves on the wrong end of one of the wildest games in NCAA history.
But despite a 93-68 second-round loss to Lone Star Conference rival Abilene Christian, which was the school's fourth straight second-round playoff loss, the 2008 season was still as success for the Buffs, who finished the year 11-2 and had 17 players picked for the All-LSC first- and second-teams.
But head coach Don Carthel, who enters his fifth season with a record of 44-7 at WT, knows it won't be easy to live up to preseason rankings, which had the Buffs second in the LSC South. That is because of those 17 all-conference players, 10 were seniors.
"We lost a lot of seniors last year, so to be picked second is a shock to me," Carthel said. "I would venture to say we have the fewest starters back of anyone in the (conference), North or South. We have three offensive and four defensive starters, and a kicker."
Tarleton offense shows improvement in final scrimmage
Tarleton State showed improvements on the offensive side of the ball in its final preseason intersquad scrimmage at Memorial Stadium Thursday night.
Coach Pleased with Scrimmage
WEATHERFORD, Okla. - Southwestern Oklahoma State University football coach Dan Cocannouer expressed pleasure with the results of Thursday's workout and scrimmage. The 50-play, 90-minute practice session was in full pads and will be the last game-type situation for the Bulldogs as they prepare for their season opener Thursday, Aug. 27 at Emporia State."I was real pleased with our effort and execution," Cocannouer said. "The biggest thing for us was getting familiar with the tempo and pace. We have a number of personnel packages and formations ... getting them on the field, in place and the ball snapped in 40 seconds takes work."
The scrimmage, which included a full officiating crew, whistled the Bulldogs just once for delay of game. SWOSU's first-team offense moved crisply under the leadership of Steve Day. The senior quarterback twice led the Bulldogs on extended scoring drives. Star receivers Johnathan Haggerty and Joe Sawyer each had pass receptions for considerable yardage that delighted the onlookers. Cocannouer also praised the efforts of freshman running back Daniel Barwick, who had a couple of long runs from scrimmage including a pair of nifty cut backs.
Graves enjoying her senior moment
You’ll have to excuse Midwestern State’s Sesley Graves if she feels like she’s been deserted.
After all, last year she was part of a Mustangs volleyball team that was loaded with local talent as Windthorst’s Allison Schreiber, Rider’s Alysha Pritt, and she and former Wichita Falls High teammate Jessica Ransom all played key roles.
But the lone senior on this year’s MSU squad isn’t concerned by their departure and is only thinking about making the 2009 team a success.
“I don’t feel deserted,” Graves said. “It’ll be different because I’ve been playing with them for the last three years and I’ll miss them. But things must move on. I have a very supportive team behind me.”
Natural FLAIR: Shrum's success comes despite no formal training
WHEN COLBY SHRUM was a kid in Perry, he emptied trash bags full of golf balls in his yard and wore himself out hitting shots at a makeshift pin.
"I would go in the house and pass out because I was so tired from hitting so much," Shrum said.
Then his parents would fetch the balls and, refreshed by a nap, he would go outside and start all over again. "I just hit balls all the time," he said.
Shrum is a two-time Division II All-American at Central Oklahoma. Call him a lower-division player at your own risk. He shot 67-66 to win the only U.S. Amateur sectional qualifier staged in Oklahoma and didn't card a score worse than par in the 36-hole tournament, never mind a rainstorm and a loaded, intimidating field. Then he shot a first-round 62 on his way to medalist honors at the Oklahoma Golf Association Stroke Play Championship and, oh by the way, carded a 69 during a casual introductory tour of Southern Hills. Perspective? In the only previous U.S. Amateur staged at Southern Hills in 1965, no one shot better than 69.
Football recruiting news: (with video highlights)
Kason Hostrop - 6-5, 260 lb OT from Sachse HS, interested in Tarleton State, Texas A&M Commerce, and Texas A&M Kingsville
Dillon Johnson - 6-1, 195lb OLB from Dumas HS, interested in Texas A&M Commerce, and Texas A&M Kingsville
Cliff Caldwell - OLB from John Tyler HS, interested in Abilene Christian
Joe Bayonne - OLB from John Tyler HS, interested in Abilene Christian
Alvin Arps - MLB from John Tyler HS, interested in Abilene Christian
Nyalls Carlton - Safety from Plano East HS, interested in Abilene Christian and West Texas A&M
Leon Richard - 5-10, 185 lb OLB from West Mesquite HS, interested in Tarleton State, Texas A&M Commerce, and Texas A&M Kingsville
Jared Kirchmeier - RB/DB from Plano Senior HS, interested in Abilene Christian and Central Oklahoma
Sam Mangum - 6-1, 201 lb, OLB from McAllen HS, interested in Abilene Christian, Texas A&M Commerce, and Texas A&M Kingsville
Ryan Foster- 5-11, 150 lb QB from Plano East HS, interested in Abilene Christian and Tarleton State