|CIAA South has some questions|
|Winston-Salem rules divison; can JCSU add wins?|
|Published Sunday, July 21, 2013 6:57 pm|
CIAA football is right around the corner.
|Johnson C. Smith linebacker Anthony Allen brings down St. Augustine’s Foderick Davenport for a short gain last year. Both teams will chase Winston-Salem State for the league title.|
The league’s coaches and players will gather on July 25 at Winston-Salem State for the annual preseason media day. While a good bit of the discussion will center on who has what, the consensus is likely that Winston-Salem State is the team to beat on a conference and national level. The Rams, who open the season on Sept. 5 with a nationally televised game at UNC-Pembroke, are going for their third straight CIAA championship. As a result, the South Division has not only the league’s best team but the most intrigue. Here’s an overview of its programs and the question that has to be answered for a successful season:
The Rams, as has been the case since 2010 when WSSU rejoined the CIAA, is the team to beat. WSSU played for the Division II national championship last year and return most of the crew from that 14-1 campaign. Quarterback Kam Smith is graduated and heir apparent Anthony Carrothers (Independence High) is coming off surgery to his non-throwing left shoulder, but the Rams are loaded on both sides of the ball.
The question is two-fold: Can WSSU and coach Connell Maynor fashion a perfect season and win the national title?
Johnson C. Smith
The Golden Bulls are starting to take on the persona of a relatively successful program after posting back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1973. Although 12-9 isn’t a robust two-year record, that’s real progress on Beatties Ford Road under fifth-year coach Steve Aycock, which includes a four-game win streak to close 2012.
Junior quarterback Keahn Wallace is one of the CIAA’s best and he has a truckload of weapons at receiver and a capable offensive line. JCSU has a new defensive coordinator in James Lott, but an experienced back seven.
The question: Can JCSU win more than six games?
The Bears were certainly down (4-6) in Robert Massey’s first season as head coach. Sophomore Marquise Grizzle was one of the CIAA’s most productive running backs last year with 803 yards in only nine games as a freshman.
The question: Can Shaw rebound in a tough division?
The Falcons put up an average of 30.5 points per game, but allowed 27.3 in finishing 6-4 in 2012. Do-it-all-threat Tyron Laughinghouse is gone, so St. Aug’s will have to come up with some new playmakers. Defensive end Javarous Faulk racked up a school record 13 sacks in 2012 that was second in the CIAA and his 1.3 sacks per game tied for second in Division II. What makes his accomplishment all the more amazing is he’s hearing-impaired.
The question: Can the Falcons pick up the slack with Laughinghouse gone?
The Broncos brought in Lawrence Kershaw as head coach after going 2-8 under Kenny Phillips in 2012. FSU will have to retool the defense, which allowed 33.3 points per game and 370.3 yards last season. The offense needs some juice after scoring an average of 22.5 points.
Free safety Michael Johnson was named to Lindy’s preseason Division II first team after tallying 93 tackles, four interceptions, a pair of fumbles forced and two fumbles recovered in 2012.
The question: Can FSU creep closer to .500 in Kershaw’s first year?
It’s OK to have modest expectations when it comes to the Blue Bears, who have a new interim coach in Daryl Williams. The good news for Livingstone is quarterback Drew Powell, who was CIAA rookie of the year in 2012 and might be the toughest hombre in the league. Defensively, the Blue Bears are in need of major overhaul after allowing an average of 46.8 points per game last year, nearly double the offense’s output (24.1 points).
The question: Will Livingstone fix the defense enough to improve on last year’s 2-8 mark?
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