Tuesday, August 17, 2010

LSC Roundup 8-17

MSU not blue about green line
J. Scott Russell, Times Record News

The Midwestern State Mustangs put up some pretty impressive offense numbers last year on the way to a 9-3 mark and a trip to the NCAA Division II playoffs.  They led the conference in scoring offense, were third in passing and total offense and fourth in rushing offense.  The quarterback and two of the top three running backs return for the 2010 campaign, as well as several of the top receivers.

Only one holdover, however, remains from the offensive front that started the playoff game for the Mustangs and had an honorable mention All-American as well as two other all-conference picks.

Still, the MSU coaching staff is optimistic that the 2010 offensive line will more than carry its weight.

Among the Best in the Country - Javelina Wide Receivers are Ready to Lead the Way (with video)
Tyler Garrett, KRIS TV

KINGSVILLE - The Texas A&M-Kingsville football team is loaded across the board with talent, but the ultimate strength of their team could be their wide receiving core. The Javelinas return three of their top four pass catchers, to along with a Pac-10 transfer.

"Since I have been coaching this groups got the potential to be the best I have seen, when they touch the ball good things happen," said Head Coach Bo Atterberry.

The Javelinas Monster is Back - Jimmy Lugo Returns for His Senior Season
Tyler Garrett, KRIS TV

KINGSVILLE - Heading into the 2009 season, former Alice star Jimmy Lugo was tabbed as a pre-season All-American, and was expected to be a nightmare for opposing offenses. But all the hype was just that, hype, as Lugo ended up academically ineligible missing the entire season.

Now a year later and he is back and ready to wreck havoc in the trenches, admitting that sitting out last season was one of the worst experiences of his life.

"Man it hurt me every single time, sometimes I'd listen to the radio and I would cut it off, because it hurt," said Lugo, who will play Defensive End for the Javelinas.

"Beast" ready For Action In Kingsville (with video)
Sean Horejs, KRIS TV

KINGSVILLE - The Javelina defense will be massive in the middle this season. Beastly, even.

Six-foot, 348-pound nosetackle Johnny Tivao figures heavily into Bo Atterberry's plans. Originally headed to the University of Washington, Tivao didn't get academic clearance and had to sit out a season, following a two-year stint at Cerritos College in California, where he was named first-team All-California Region III and first-team All-National Division Central Conference following his sophomore season.

LSC Fall Sports Preview Series: Incarnate Word
Nick Eatman, LoneStar Conference Website

This is the seventh of a 16-part series, analyzing the fall sports of each school in the Lone Star Conference. Today will feature Incarnate Word, the newest member of the LSC.

It’s not common that a 42-point home loss can provide a momentum boost for a football team. Remarkably, UIW head coach Mike Santiago said he believes that was the case as the Cardinals kick started the program in 2009. A 49-7 loss to eventual-LSC co-champion Midwestern State changed the landscape in San Antonio.

“For a while in that first half, we were right there,” Santiago said. “We were fighting. We battled. We gave everything we have. Our kids looked around and realized that we were competing at a very high level. Now at the end of the game, our kids were spent. They couldn’t sustain it. But after that game, regardless of the (final score), our kids realized that if we take care of the ball and execute, we can be competitive and win some games.”

And that’s what the Cardinals did, winning four of the next seven games, with the three losses resulting in a combined margin of 10 points. The best part for Santiago is the Cardinals return 52 lettermen from last season, including 35 sophomores.

The quarterback position is rather open with Eric Massoni and Thomas Specia both battling for the job. Sophomore tailback Trent Rios rushed for 357 yards and two touchdowns last year, while Dominic Hamilton led the team with 29 catches for 464 yards and six touchdowns. Santiago said the offensive line was just too young to compete in certain games last year, but is confident that a year under its belt should help, as will a pair of transfers – Manny Tijerina and Jason Hind. The Cardinals are counting on progress from last year’s linemen – Charles Segura, Jayson Hierholzer, Michael Palacios and Patrick Martinez.

Defensively, the Cardinals were impressive as a first-year bunch; ranking 20th in the nation in tackles for losses, averaging 8.33 per game. Lineman Diego McClain led the charge up front, and got help from safety Chaz Pavliska, a first-team All-Independent pick last year. Linebackers Dakota Mawyer and Zach Zellars will be tough to block, as will Alan Ford, who led the team with 6 ½ sacks last year.

“I think we grew up together last year,” Santiago said. “Are we there yet? Probably not. We’ve got a long ways to go still. But we’re young and getting better and we’ll fight you to the end. That’s what I like about this team and that’s why I have confidence in every game we play, that we’re going to compete. Right now, that’s all I can ask for.”
Blinn transfers aim for another title at Tarleton
Sports Editor

Tarleton State head football coach Cary Fowler talks with his team all the time about winning a national championship.

For seven of the newest Texans, the message is a lot more than just a pep talk.

Blinn College won the 2009 National Junior College Athletic Association championship, its second in four years. Seven players from that team are now at Tarleton, where Fowler hopes their championship magic will rub off on the rest of the Texans.

"It's easy to see why those guys won a national championship together," Fowler said. "They're all great football players, but they're even better men. There's a big difference in wanting to win and expecting to win. Those guys expect to win. They expect to be champions."

Defensive end Logan Johnson says winning the junior college championship was one of the most exciting times of his life.

"It was ecstatic," he said. "We played (the championship) in Pittsburg, Kansas, and it was freezing, but we didn't care. It was great."

Blinn defeated Fort Scott Community College 31-26 in the championship game, and when the final buzzer sounded, Henry says the emotion was overwhelming.

"It was indescribable really," he said. "At Blinn, we were just a collection of athletes at first. But once we came together as a team we were like a family on and off the field. When you win a championship with your family there's a lot of emotion involved."

Johnson and Henry were two of the transfers who committed to Tarleton in time to be on campus throughout the spring semester and in spring ball.

"I handpicked Terrence to be our weak-side safety, what we call our 'whip,'" Fowler said. "When I was at Midwestern we always had an all-conference player at that position, and we haven't had that since I've been here at Tarleton. Terrence should be that guy. He's a coach's dream. He doesn't talk, he listens. He's like a sponge, soaking up everything you teach him.

"Terrence has what I call 'it,'" Fowler continued. "I told him that once. I told him 'You have 'it,' and I don't know what 'it is, but if I ever figure it out we're going to win a lot of national championships here.'"

Henry doesn't know what 'it' is either, but he thinks he understands what Fowler means.

"I just think it's my character," Henry said. "I'm not a person who talks much on the field. I feel like I'm a leader, but not a vocal leader. I try to lead more by my actions. I try to always do the right thing, even if nobody is watching."

Fowler is just as complimentary of Johnson.

"Logan is the hardest working, most determined kid in our program," Fowler said. "He only weighs about 205 pounds, but he's exceptionally fast and explodes off the ball. He's a phenomenal athlete and he has a lot of determination. That's a good combination."

Johnson doesn't mind being undersized by college defensive end standards. He uses it as motivation.

"I have little-man syndrome," he said. "I love when people say, 'Look at that little guy at defensive end. He isn't going to do anything.' By the end of the game, those same people are shaking my hand telling me how good I played."

Johnson's stat totals from 2009 are controversial. The NJCAA Web site, which publishes stats submitted from coaches, says he had 14 sacks. Johnson, however, says he had 17.5. Either way, he had a lot, and Fowler believes he can have the same type of production in Division II.

"He could easily get 14 or more sacks," he said. "He's a warrior."

Henry and Johnson committing early was significant not only because Fowler couldn't wait to get them on the field, but because they helped to recruit some of their Blinn teammates.

"We don't really have an inside connection at Blinn, but we had Terrence and Logan," Fowler said. "As soon as we had those two guys here and they bought into everything we're teaching and doing, they started trying to get their old teammates to come."

And one-by-one, Blinn players began to show interest in Tarleton. By summer's end, the Texans were sporting five defensive and two offensive players off the juco championship team.

Anthony Gonzales played end opposite of Johnson and was a first-team All-American after making 39 tackles including 14 behind the line and 7.5 sacks. Defensive tackle Brian Ford, who was impressive in Monday morning's practice for the Texans, made 29 tackles including three for loss last fall.

In the secondary, Henry, who also won a 5A high school championship at Katy, made 42 tackles and is joined by Cassius Bradley, who made 56 stops including 4.5 behind the line.

"Cassius is going to be our utility guy on defense," Fowler said. "He'll play a lot of positions for us - corner, safety and rover. His best spot might be at rover. He could be as good as 'Dee Wee' (two-time Lone Star Conference South Defensive Back of the Year Ranardrick Phillips) was when he was here."

Offensively, Fowler expects immediate contributions from lineman Shawn Wyatt and receiver Bola Omisanya.

Wyatt stands 6-5 and tips the scale at 315, and Fowler says he has already proven his toughness in training camp.

"He was horsing around with some guys, just having fun, and somehow he busted his head open," Fowler said. "He got it stapeled together, and then in practice the staples didn't hold so he just started bleeding, but he wouldn't stop. He just kept practicing. That's the mentality you're looking for from an offensive lineman."

Omisanya hasn't suited up in practice yet, but Fowler says he already knows what the receiver is capable of.

"He's 6-1, 205 and runs a 4.4," Fowler said. "He's so physically gifted, and he can really catch the ball. We can't wait to get him in pads."

Henry says it's comforting to have old teammates blending in with new ones.

"It's about knowing you have somebody there who already has your back and who already knows what it takes to win a championship," Henry said.

Johnson is just glad somebody is there to help him wake up each morning for early meetings or practices.

"It's nice to have somebody you know will get you up at 6 a.m.," he said with a laugh.

The Blinn players couldn't be happier to be back together, and Fowler couldn't be happier to have their championship aura spreading throughout the Tarleton program.

"I wear my championship ring all the time. Sometimes I even take it off and let some of the other guys wear it, because I want them to know what it's like," Johnson said.

Henry says the ring is a symbol of what it takes to win a national title.

"The ring shows how much hard work we put in to get there," he said. "It reminds me how much hard work we have to do here to get there again."

Fowler likes to talk about national titles, and he doesn't mind a bit that his players are talking about winning championships, too.

For the seven new Texans from Blinn, the talk is of winning a second championship together.

"We talk about it all the time," Johnson said. "We have to win another one."

Football Holds First Practice in Full Pads
Angelo State Sports Information

SAN ANGELO, Texas - Angelo State held its first practice in full pads Monday morning, while also avoiding triple digit temperatures for the first time at the LeGrand Sports Complex.

It was generally more of the same from the Rams as they worked out for the fourth time as a full squad, but the speed of the drills and contact was noticeably greater. Monday's practice ran a little more than two hours, beginning with special teams drills and concluding with full team plays.

Part of Monday's practice focused on blitzing and picking up the blitz, pitting linebackers against running backs. After several wins for each unit, the running backs pulled off the win in the final rep, holding off the blitzing linebacker for just enough time to keep the quarterback safe.

Another highligh play on Monday came from sophomore wide receiver C.J. Akins, who hurdled sophomore defensive back Alvin Johnson after making catch. Tristan Carter, a junior running back, ran with authority Monday and showed why his teammates have nicknamed him "Tank".

ASU SPORTS: Volleyball team hits the court
Mike Whitson, San Angelo Standard Times

— Last season the Angelo State University volleyball team made its second straight trip to the Lone Star Conference tournament powered by the unexpected play of some talented underclassmen, carrying just two seniors on the roster.  The young Rambelles responded well after being thrown into the fire, leading the team to wins in eight of their last nine games and took conference runner-up Abilene Christian to a fifth set in the semifinals of the postseason tournament.

On Monday, the ’Belles held their first official practices as the No. 3-ranked team in the LSC preseason poll.
“There’s a lot of energy in the gym,” head coach Chuck Waddington said. “The excitement level is high, which is always true of the first day of practice, but our level of effort was really high as well.”

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