Friday, August 13, 2010

LSC Roundup 8-13

ACU: Stewart's departure ups ante for starting QB job
Joey D. Richards
Abilene Reporter News

The battle for the starting quarterback job at No. 7 Abilene Christian University has taken an interesting twist. What was once a three-man battle is now down to two. Cooper graduate Zach Stewart, who was 7-0 as a starter, told the ACU coaching staff on Friday that he was not returning to the team.

“Yeah, I was real surprised when Zach quit, with the timing of it,” said ACU coach Chris Thomsen, whose Wildcats opened practice Thursday. “You don’t expect that going into training camp. But I respect Zach’s decision. I love the guy. He gave us three hard years and worked hard. We wish Zach the best.”

Ready for encore
George Vondracek
Corpus Christi Caller Times

— With 108 players reporting for preseason workouts, competition was keen in the Texas A&M-Kingsville football camp, even for the opening of two-a-day drills on Thursday.  Fourth-year coach Bo Atterberry wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Boy, it was muggy out there today. But it was a good tempo. It was 2 hours and 20 minutes,” Atterberry said. “They were giving great effort. I think we had some guys that need to work themselves into shape. It’s always different from summer workouts to putting a helmet on to going through drills with this tempo and the coach right over your shoulder the whole time, so it’s to be expected early.

“We’ve got some ways to go with the shape stuff and that’s why you create competition,” Atterberry said. “You have depth at every position because the first few games for everybody is different after a year of not being live like that. So we’ve got 21 days to get there.”

Ramirez or Poppell in 2010 - Javelinas QB Battle Heats Up
Tyler Garrett

KINGSVILLE - It's just 21 days until their season opener versus Northwest Missouri State, the defending D2 National Champions, and the Texas A&M-Kingsville football team has yet to name a starting quarterback.

For Head Coach Bo Atterberry, this is becoming something of a tradition, as he has found himself in this exact situation each season since he took over in 2007.

Testing the new turf
Dave Henry
Amarillo Globe News

There is one noticeable difference between the brand-spanking-new football practice field at the still-under-construction Buffalo Sports Complex and Kimbrough Memorial Stadium, the home of the Buffs and their sometimes practice field.  Kimbrough features a hill in the north end zone, a steep torturous climb used as motivation by WT coaches to make sure their players stay in line.

Show up late for practice, for example, and you might find yourself charging up that hill - pausing at the top to wait for your lungs to catch up.  The new practice fields, which the Buffs officially broke in for the first time Thursday during the first day of preseason practice, feature no such hill.

Not to worry, though.

Mustangs hit the field for first practice of the season
J. Scott Russell
Times Record News

The Midwestern State Mustangs had 100 players on the field Thursday for offseason testing and the first practice of the year, and head coach Bill Maskill was pleased with the effort.

Although he hadn’t yet gone over the official results of the 300-yard shuttle runs in the 104-degree heat, he said he thought a majority of the players passed.  In fact, he said he was a little surprised.

“I think we’re in better shape right now than we were last year at this time,” Maskill said. “Even our strength and conditioning coach was excited just looking at the surface without the official results. Even the transfers and a lot of the new guys are in good shape. Last year we weren’t in very good shape when we showed up, but we worked hard and got in shape. We need to put in that same kind of effort this year.”

Storm's brewing at East Central
Bob Forrest
Ada Evening News

Ada — Matt Storm has a big investment in East Central University football. And along with head man Tim McCarty and the rest of the coaching staff — most of them ECU alums like Storm — he expects that investment to start paying dividends this fall.

Storm has worn a lot of hats for the Tigers over the past six years. He came to Ada as a junior college transfer in 2004 to join McCarty in the first season of his first tour as ECU’s head coach and was an all-Lone Star Conference center on a surprising 6-4 team that is still the last Tiger squad to win more than three games.

After back-to-back all-conference seasons under McCarty, Storm hung around to finish his Masters and was a graduate assistant under Kurt Nichols, who took over as head coach when McCarty left Ada to become an assistant at Kansas State following the 2005 season. Storm has coached running backs and offensive linemen, and last season he took over as ECU’s defensive line coach — a spot where he is able to give a unique perspective as somebody who spent his playing career on the other side of the ball.

“Matt was one of the better centers I’ve seen in the conference in the seven years I’ve been a part of it,” said second-year ECU defensive coordinator Justin Deason, who was an assistant under McCarty when Storm was a player. “He does a really good job of teaching how teams are going to block us and in teaching the defensive linemen how to counter blocks. Matt is a huge asset to our staff on defense, and he’s a great recruiter.”

Ex-High School Football Star Arrested
Jerrell Wilkerson Accused Of Assaulting Officer, Theft
Katrina Webber, KSAT 12 News Reporter

SAN ANTONIO -- A former standout on the local high school football scene is now back in the spotlight -- but for different reasons. Police arrested Jerrell Wilkerson, 23, after a run-in with the law Tuesday that left a female officer with her arm in a sling.

According to police, the officer was one of two who responded to a report of shoplifting at a Walmart on Vance Jackson Road. The officers attempted to arrest Wilkerson, but he put up a fight and led them on a foot chase that ended with his capture about a half mile away, police said.

"He's gone down the wrong path. We pray for him here at Clark," said Steve McGhee, Wilkerson's former high school football coach.

LSC Fall Sports Preview Series: Tarleton State
Nick Eatman
LoneStar Conference Website

This is the fifth of a 16-part series, analyzing the fall sports of each school in the Lone Star Conference. Today will feature Tarleton State.

The only new head coach in the Lone Star Conference is hardly a new face to the LSC.  Cary Fowler takes over the Tarleton State football team and will use his league experience to help guide him through his first year. Fowler was the defensive coordinator for the Texans the last two years and has seven years with the same title at conference rival Midwestern State.

“I know the conference well and I know the players and coaches, so I feel like it should be a smooth transition,” said Fowler, who replaced Sam McElroy when he joined the Texas Tech staff this spring. “This is exactly where I want to be. I’m so excited to be the head coach at Tarleton and I feel like we’ve got a chance to have a really good season.”

And the Texans were pretty good last year, earning an 10-3 record and advancing to the second round of the NCAA playoffs. To improve on that this year, not only does Fowler need to figure out a way to replace several key starters, but also find a way to duplicate Tarleton’s fourth-quarter magic.

Tarleton had some dramatic finishes, none bigger than the first round of the playoffs when Texan kicker Garrett Lindholm booted a 64-yard field goal to force overtime with Texas A&M-Kingsville. The Texans eventually won that game 57-56 and also three other LSC games by a touchdown or less.

Lindholm has since departed, along with other offensive starters at quarterback, running back and wide receiver.

However, tailback Evan Robertson is back after rushing for 894 yards and scoring nine touchdowns. The leading returning receiver is Arthur Buckingham, who had 17 catches for 255 yards.  At quarterback, the competition is wide open with at least three players vying for the starting role. Guard Bubba Wagner (second-team All-LSC) returns to anchor the offensive line.

Defensively, safety Lonnie Buchanan is not only the lone returning first-team All-LSC pick, but has earned a few All-American selections this preseason. The secondary should be strong with cornerback Brandon Johnson, a second-team all-conference pick, also returning. Johnson led the Texans last year with four interceptions.  Linebacker Matt Knicky led the team with 98 tackles and also recorded two sacks and three interceptions. Defensive end Jamaal Steamer had 8 ½ tackles for loss last year and three sacks.

The schedule won’t be easy for the Texans, who have road games at Central Oklahoma, Abilene Christian, West Texas A&M, Midwestern State and Texas A&M-Commerce, not to mention Division I foe Northwestern State.

“We know it’ll be a tough schedule, but that’s the way it is in this conference,” Fowler said. “I’m excited as I can be to get started.”

Javelina Football Kicks Off Season
TAMK Sports Information

KINGSVILLE, TEXAS – The 2010 Texas A&M-Kingsville football team hit the practice field for the first time on Thursday morning with hopes that their final practice will not take place until December 17 in Florence, Alabama.

“The guys were all amped up to get out there which led to some fatigue later in practice, but I was pleased with how much they retained from the Spring,” said fourth year head coach Bo Atterberry. “Only 20 more practices to figure things out as we prepare for Northwest Missouri, but we are excited to be back out on the field.”

The Javelinas are coming off a 9-3 season in which they won their 27th Lone Star Conference title and advanced to the NCAA Division II Playoffs for the first time since 2004. The team enters the season with a #16 preseason ranking by the American Football Coaches Association poll. They open up the season on the road at preseason #1 and defending national champion Northwest Missouri State on September 2.

The Javelinas return a number of outstanding offensive weapons although they did lose record-setting quarterback Billy Garza to graduation. Juniors Nate Poppell (Spring/Klein Forest HS) and Daniel Ramirez (Sinton/Sinton HS) are each in competition for the starting job. Poppell was the team’s back-up in 2009 while Ramirez saw time on the field in 2007 and 2008 throwing for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in 137 career passes.

Poppell and Ramirez will have plenty of options to throw to this year. Senior Ryan Lincoln (Bastrop/Bastrop HS) is a two-time Second Team LSC South honoree. He has 145 catches for 2,093 yards in his career and needs only 33 receptions to become the school’s all-time leader. Senior Delashaun Dean (Fairfield, CA/Fairfield HS) is a transfer from the University of Arizona where he compiled 132 catches in three seasons. His size, 6-4, and speed could make him one of the top receivers in all of Division II. The team has excellent depth at the position with Sherman Batiste (Fort Bend/Marshall HS), Damian Couthren (Bastrop/Bastrop HS), Jonathon Woodson (Missouri City/Marshall HS) and Robert Armstrong (Cuero/Cuero HS) all figuring in the mix. Batiste and Couthren have each earned Honorable Mention LSC South honors in the past two years.

In the backfield, the Javelinas have the marquee 1-2 punch in seniors Fred “Hollywood” Winborn (N. Hollywood, CA/Grant HS) and Connell Davis (Portland/Gregory-Portland HS). Winborn led the LSC in rushing yards and scoring as he compiled 1,295 rushing yards and scored 19 total touchdowns while averaging 6.6 yards per carry. He set the school record with 263 yards in a game against Eastern New Mexico last year while earning First Team All-South Central Region honors. Davis picked up 491 yards rushing and 200 yards receiving while scoring 10 touchdowns en route to earning Second Team LSC South honors. Each player has big play capabilities and can carry load when called upon.

The offensive line returns three starters in Tim Byerly (Victoria/Memorial HS), Colby Lowrie (Sweeny/Sweeny HS) and Trent Perkins (Alice/Alice HS). The team will look to replace departed four-year starters Markeith Wesley and Jorge Guerra, but it may take some time for the unit to completely jell.

The tight end has not been a position that has seen much use over the past two seasons, but red-shirt freshmen Derek Tesch (Blanco/Blanco HS) and Jake Willingham (Van Alstyne/Van Alstyne HS) could change all of that. Both players are big targets with Tesch having the upper hand heading into the season.

The Javelinas will look to improve on defense where they were very strong during the first half of 2009, but struggled the remainder of the season. Senior safety DeIra Glover (Hempstead/Hempstead HS) is the team leader and is a top playmaker after scoring four defensive touchdowns last year. Joining him at free safety is senior Corey Robertson (Denison/Denison HS) who also earned Second Team All-LSC South honors.

The rest of the defensive secondary includes returning cornerbacks Derrick Thomas (San Antonio/Jay HS) and Mardrick Johnson (Lafayette, LA/Orange HS) and a number of talented newcomers. Transfers Arron Fisher (Orlando, FL/West Orange HS), Kendrick Matthews (Houston/Marshall HS), Stanley Washington (Brooklyn, NY/Long Island City HS) and Michael Diggs (Houston/Crosby HS) should all factor in against stopping opposing passing games.

The defensive line lost current Dallas Cowboy Jimmy Saddler-McQueen, but return starters Mike Talamantez (Laredo/United HS), Matt Romig (Bells/Bells HS) and Dondi Cooks (Mesquite/North Mesquite HS). Bolstering the front line is former First Team All-LSC South defensive end Jimmy Lugo (Alice/Alice HS) who missed last season, but has 12 career sacks. Cerritos College transfer Johnny Tivao (Compton, CA/Paramount HS) has been tabbed to plug the line and should have an immediate impact against opposing running games.

The linebacking corp is the team’s most inexperienced group, but has some potential playmakers. Sophomore Aaron Buckley (Palacios/Palacios HS) returns to his natural linebacker position after playing defensive line last year. He is a former Texas 3A State Defensive Player of the Year. Senior Tressor Baptiste (New York, NY/Curtis HS) played last season at Hofstra, but found his way to the Javelinas after they dropped their program. Senior Marc Kinney (San Antonio/Lavernia HS) will likely hold down the Rover position after having a solid junior season. Factoring in the mix will be senior Hector Sobres (Converse/Judson HS) who will likely rotate frequently with both Buckley and Baptiste.

Senior Christian Brom (McAllen/McAllen HS) will lead the special teams as he heads into his fourth year as the starting place kicker. He has connected on 100-of-104 career extra point attempts and is a 65.6 percent field goal kicker. Junior Cameron Schultz (Brenham/Brenham HS) will likely take over the punting duties after four-year starter Cody Smith graduated. He has handled the majority of kickoff duties over the past two seasons. Red-shirt freshman Matt Stoll (College Station/A&M-Consolidated HS) could factor into the kicking game this year.

ACU Sports Blog
Go to the ACUsportsblog for new interviews with LB Courtney Lane, QB Mitchell Gale, and head coach Chris Thomsen.  There are some from last week with Aston Whiteside, Reggie Brown, and more with head coach Thomsen.

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Lone Star Conference

Angelo State University

Cameron University

Eastern New Mexico University

Texas A&M-Commerce

Tarleton State University

Texas A&M-Kingsville

Texas Woman's College

University of Texas of the Permian Basin

West Texas A&M University

Western New Mexico