|WSSU team to beat in South|
|Rams aim for third straight CIAA title|
|Published Thursday, August 29, 2013 8:21 am|
The question for the CIAA South has a familiar ring: Can any team dethrone two-time defending champions Winston-Salem State?
The North certainly hasn’t been able to, and Shaw was the last South team to do so in 2010.
• Winston-Salem State. Every year coach Connell Maynor laments over what he lost the year before. And every season he reloads.
The Rams have a 35-4 record since returning to the conference four years ago. WSSU advanced all the way to the Division II championship game before losing to Valdosta State 35-7.
Gone is starting quarterback Kameron Smith, who broke a slew of passing records, and All-American center Markus Lawrence. But the team will be in capable hands with redshirt junior QB Anthony Carrothers (Independence High), who threw for 989 yards and 12 touchdowns against just four interceptions.
Running back stud Maurice Lewis (201 carries, 1,027 yards, 13 TDs) is back to take some of the pressure off Carrothers. The quarterback will need all the help he can get with the loss of WSSU’s top three wide receivers.
CIAA Defensive Player of the Year Carlos Fields, who recorded 117 tackles (68 solo), nine tackles for loss and one-a-half sacks, will lead the defense. Also returning is linebacker Daniel Mungin, who recorded 67 tackles and 5.5 sacks.
The fifth-ranked Rams open their season Sept. 5 at UNC-Pembroke in a televised game on CBS Sports Network.
• St. Augustine’s. The Falcons are still looking for their first conference championship since reinstating football 11 years ago. If not for a last-second TD pass against Shaw in the finale, they would have finished with a disappointing .500 conference record.
Known for his stellar defensive units, coach Michael Costa added Livingstone alum and retired NFL star Ben Coates as offensive coordinator. The biggest loss is Mr. Everything Tyron Laughinghouse. The CIAA Special Teams Player of the Year graduated as the school’s career leader in touchdowns and receiving yards.
But redshirt senior WR Brian Richards is ready to take over the reins. Despite being slowed by injury, Richards finished second on the team with 47 receptions.
Getting him the ball could be one of several QBs vying for the starting role. Senior Byron Munro was the backup to Teddy Bacote who still had a year of eligibility but graduated.
Not surprising, the Falcons are stacked on defense. All-CIAA defensive lineman Javarous Faulk returns after a monster season of 13 sacks. Joining him on the front line are veterans Christopher Roberts, Shonquez Nelson and Michael Oliver. All-CIAA linebacker Chaz Robinson is continuing the tradition of successful LBs under Costa’s regime.
The Falcons open Sept. 7 at N.C. Central.
• Johnson C. Smith. Coach Steve Aycock already has his bulletin board motivation for the season. After finishing a surprising second in the division last year, the Golden Bulls were rewarded with a fourth-place prediction.
“That drives our kids to continue to work on deserving some respect,” Aycock said. “We don’t control (preseason predictions). The only thing we can do is control our own destiny with playing good, smart, fast, physical football.”
JCSU returns preseason all-CIAA quarterback Keahn Wallace, who set a school record with 2,280 yards and 22 touchdowns last year.
The Bulls also return sophomore receiver Fred Scott, who led the team in receiving yards and touchdowns in 2012.
• Shaw. Coach Robert Massey noted at the CIAA football luncheon that since 2004 the Bears have won a title every three years. This season will be the third year since 2010.
Massey guided the Bears to a 4-6 record his first season as head coach after serving as an assistant. The offense took the biggest hit at signal-caller with the loss of record-setting quarterback James Stallons. But Quinshon Odom, who lost his starting job to Stallons, is ready to resume the role.
The Bears allowed too many big plays late in the game on defense. But they have Mr. Excitement in All-American cornerback Darnell Evans.
Shaw opens Sept. 7 at University of Charleston (WVa.)
• Fayetteville State. In is Lawrence Kershaw. Out is Kenny Phillips. Kershaw, offensive coordinator at Florida A&M for five seasons, inherits a team that went 2-8. The Broncos are a young team with 11 seniors, 20 juniors, 19 sophomores and 23 freshmen. They host Virginia State on Sept. 7.
• Livingstone. There were a couple of bright spots to the Blue Bears’ 2-8 season. The offense rose from 158th to 88th in Division II and from last in the CIAA to third. One man is responsible for the change – 2012 CIAA Offensive Rookie of the Year Drew Powell threw for 2,322 yards, 18 TDs and only five INTs. He also rushed for 259 yards. Now, if he can just get some defensive help.
Livingstone opens its season Sept. 7 against JCSU in the Commemorative Classic.
|It's gonna to be an interesting season as always in the CIAA. I'll be intrigued, like many other football fans, to see which teams make it to Winston Salem in November.|
|Posted on September 5, 2013|
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