The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

Sports

July 28, 2010

Time to crank it up

Bearkats picked to finish seventh in SLC; Lumberjacks tabbed to repeat as champs in preseason poll

LAKE CHARLES, La. — Sam Houston State head coach Willie Fritz knew coming into the season that he was going to have his hands full turning around the Bearkats’ football program.

The rest of the coaches in the Southland Conference apparently agree.

Coming off a 5-6 season, a fifth-place finish in league play and the loss of 15 starters, Sam Houston State has been tabbed to finish seventh in the SLC preseason coaches’ poll, which was announced Wednesday during the Southland Conference Football Media Day at the L’Auberge du Lac Resort.

“We lost a bunch of guys — 27 seniors — a bunch of lettermen from last year’s group,” the new Bearkats’ head coach said. “I’m excited about the kids we have coming back and the body of work they are doing. I like the direction we are going and I feel like we signed a good class.”

With all the turnover, it wasn’t too surprising to see where Sam Houston fell in the preseason poll, and it was even less surprising to see which schools are at the top.

Defending Southland Conference co-champions Stephen F. Austin and McNeese State are pegged to finish first and second, respectively.

The Lumberjacks, who just a few years ago went 0-11, put together a remarkable 2009 campaign, going 6-1 in SLC play and 10-3 overall, including a 44-33 victory over Eastern Washington in the opening round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

SFA received seven of the eight possible first-place votes from the coaches mainly because the Lumberjacks return 2009 SLC co-player of the year in Jeremy Moses. The senior quarterback from Baytown Lee High School threw for 4,124 yards and 40 touchdowns last season.

“It’s a great honor that we are (picked atop the poll) because that is obviously where everyone wants to be,” SFA head coach J.C. Harper said. “We just want to be there consistently. That would be nice. But I think this year it is because we have a really good quarterback who is a senior and has had quite a few accomplishments at SFA.

“He is a Walter Payton Award candidate and an All-American. We also have an All-American on the other side of the ball in (linebacker) Jabara Williams. Anytime you have two guys like that, (being picked to finish first) comes with the territory. Now, you just have to go out and get it done on the field.”

McNeese State received the other first-place vote. The Cowboys, who year after year are among the top teams in the SLC, also went 6-1 in league play last fall and finished with a 9-3 overall mark following a 49-13 loss to New Hampshire in the first round of the playoffs.

McNeese has a steeper mountain to climb this season with the daunting task of replacing quarterback Derrick Fourroux, the SLC co-player of the year, and all-conference running back Todd Pendland. But the Cowboys do return 10 starters on one of the SLC’s top defenses.

“You have to pick (SFA and McNeese) at the top until someone beats them,” Fritz said. “SFA went two rounds deep in the playoffs and McNeese made it. That is what we aspire to build our program to. We want to be a team that competes for championships every year.”

Southeastern Louisiana is picked to finish tied with Texas State for third in the preseason poll. The Lions came close to a breakout year in 2009 under head coach Mike Lucas.

Southeastern finished fourth in the SLC at 4-3, which included a one-point loss to McNeese in Lake Charles. That was the Lions’ best showing since joining the conference in 2005.

Southeastern compiled a 6-5 overall record, its first winning season since 2004.

“We have worked very hard to get ourselves into position to compete for the conference championship and have a chance to get into the FCS playoffs,” said Lucas, who served as the defensive coordinator at SHSU from 1987-2001. “There was a time when I was at Sam Houston that whenever we got into the playoffs there was such a lift to the campus, the community and the entire fan base. We need to experience that at Southeastern. That is a goal this year.”

Texas State went 5-2 in the SLC in 2009 and 7-4 overall. The Bobcats have won two conference championships in the past five seasons.

Central Arkansas, which is eligible to compete for the SLC championship and the FCS playoffs after transitioning from Division II the past four years, is slated to finish fifth.

Northwestern State, which is looking to get things turned around under second-year head coach Bradley Dale Peveto following an 0-11 season, was picked sixth ahead of Sam Houston State.

Nicholls was voted into the eighth spot. The Colonels will totally revamp their offense this season, shifting from the triple option to pass oriented scheme under new head coach Charlie Stubbs.

Text Only
Sports
  • 4-24-rickeyshia.jpg HUNTSVILLE TRACK AND FIELD — Now's the time to shine at regional meet

    Only one more meet and strong competition is keeping the Lady Hornets and a pair of Hornets from advancing to the UIL Track and Field State Meet.
    In order to advance to Austin, the Huntsville boys and girls will have to turn in another strong showing on Friday and Saturday at the Class 4A Region III meet, which will be held at the York Track and Field Complex at Sam Houston State University.

    April 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • HORNETS FOOTBALL — Hornets football coaching staff coming together

    As the Hornets and their new head coach, Rodney Southern, continue to get more acquainted, there will also be a handful of new faces that the Huntsville boys will learn to get accustomed to.
    Though there are plenty of coaches still employed at other school districts, Southern is slowly but steadily putting his coaching staff together.

    April 24, 2014

  • HUNTSVILLE BASEBALL — Hornets upset Brenham in final road game

    All of a sudden, the Huntsville baseball team is on a roll. The Hornets figure it’s better late than never.
    Since getting off to a rough 1-10 start in district play this season, Huntsville has rattled off three wins in its last four games and two in a row after Tuesday night’s 7-4 road victory against district leader Brenham.

    April 23, 2014

  • 4-23-shsu-golfer-Zach-Cabra.jpg SOUTHLAND CONFERENCE GOLF — Bearkats lead by 10 shots going into final round of men's championships

    Led by junior Zach Cabra and senior Albert Miner, Sam Houston State held off a charge by Stephen F. Austin to take a 10-stroke lead into today’s final 18 holes at the 2014 Southland Conference Men’s Golf Championship.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-23-schultz.jpg NEW WAVERLY SOFTBALL — Lady Dogs ready for playoff game against Blooming Grove on Thursday

    With the Lady Bulldogs in the playoffs for the fourth straight season, this year’s team has high expectations going into the post-season.The latest pursuit begins Thursday for the Lady Dogs, facing Blooming Grove of District 23-2A at Madisonville High School in the opening round. Thursday’s game is scheduled for 7 p.m., while Game 2 is slated for Friday at 6 p.m. If necessary, the Lady Dogs and Lady Lions will play a third and deciding game following Friday’s tilt.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • SHSU BASEBALL — Bearkats take down No. 12 Houston

    The Bearkats manufactured a run in the ninth inning to break a 4-4 tie and beat No. 12 Houston 5-4 on Tuesday at Cougar Field. Designated hitter Hayden Simerly scored the first and final runs of the game, the last on a sacrifice fly after he was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning.

    April 23, 2014

  • 4-22-coach-oliphant-2011-playoffs.jpg Huntsville hires Jay Oliphant as new boys basketball coach

    Huntsville hired a new head coach for the boys basketball team and didn’t have to search very far to find him.
    Jay Oliphant is well-known around these parts. After spending the last five seasons as the girls basketball coach, Oliphant will take over a boys program that missed the playoffs in 2013-14 for the first time in the last six seasons.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-22-chaz.jpg NEW WAVERLY BASEBALL — Bulldogs jump on Onalaska early, cruises to 10-1 victory in finale

    The Bulldogs are back.
    After a year away from the Class 2A baseball playoff picture, New Waverly’s team has returned to form and perhaps even better than before.
    The Bulldogs finished the regular season strong with a dominant 10-1 victory over Onalaska on Monday night.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • HUNTSVILLE BOYS BASKETBALL — Jay Oliphant to be named new Hornets head coach

    Former Huntsville basketball standout Jay Oliphant is the new head coach for the boys team, The Item learned Monday morning.

    April 21, 2014

  • 4-20-Cally-Belcher-2.jpg Cally Belcher's death was a tragedy ahead of its time

    As a defensive back for the Huntsville Hornets from 1987-89, Cally Belcher was an intimidating tackler during a time in football when hitting was one of the more glamorous elements of the sport.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

Photos


House Ads
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Facebook
AP Video
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide