State schools previews and schedules

August 26, 2012 


Coach: Perry Thomas (24-22 in four seasons at Campbellsville)

Last season: 7-5 overall, 3-2 and tied for second in the Mid-South Conference East Division

Outlook: Campbellsville closed 2011 by winning four straight games, including a 21-7 win over Greenville College in the National Christian College Athletic Association's Victory Bowl.

"Winning the Victory Bowl gave us great momentum going into the off-season," Thomas said. "The win led to tremendous work in the weight room, with conditioning and in spring practice. Now our guys are hungry to make the NAIA playoffs — to take it to the next level."

Thomas will have to replace all-conference running back Wayne Coffee, who gained more than 1,300 yards in 2011.

Likely replacements will come from a group of redshirt freshmen, but Thomas said the key will be the experienced offensive line.

"They may have a better line to play behind than Wayne did," Thomas said of the new running backs.

Due to injuries, the Tigers were forced to play five different quarterbacks in 2011.

"If we stay healthy at the quarterback position, I think we can compete with anyone in the conference," Thomas said. "We compete in a very demanding conference, but we are good enough to play with anyone."

Key players: WR Demytreus Gipson; LB Blake Young; DB Earl McCann; QB Will Warf; OL Caleb Croney

Tigers' schedule

(All times local to school)

Date Opponent Time

Sept. 1 PIKEVILLE 6 p.m.

Sept. 8 UNION 7 p.m.

Sept. 15 BETHEL 7 p.m.

Sept. 22 at Belhaven 2:30 p.m.

Sept. 29 at Kentucky Christian 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 6 GEORGETOWN 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 13 LINDSEY WILSON 2 p.m.

Oct. 20 at Cumberland 7 p.m.

Oct. 27 at Cumberlands 1:30 p.m.

Nov. 3 FAULKNER 1:30 p.m.

Nov. 10 at Bluefield 1 p.m.


Coach: Andy Frye (87-53 in 14 seasons at Centre)

Last season: 9-2 overall, 5-1 in the Southern Athletic Association (Division III); lost in second round of playoffs

Outlook: The Colonels must replace last season's leading rusher, Jonathan Pinque, and quarterback Tyler Osterman, who threw for 1,854 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2011.

Frye said the competition to find this year's quarterback is bringing out the best of all involved. The winner of that competition will have a talented group of receivers to throw to, Frye said.

"We have six wide receivers that are as good as you can get," he said. "Kids that can make plays when they catch the football."

Frye is especially excited about the defense, which returns plenty of starters.

"We have a young but very talented defensive line. They are made up of sophomores and juniors, but they played a lot last year," Frye said. "By the end of the year they were anchors for us. We are expecting a lot from them this year."

The Colonels will play a tough schedule featuring two top-25 Division III opponents.

"You want to compete against the best. Everybody we play is going to be good," Frye said. "We aren't going to sneak up on anyone anymore."

Frye said the Colonels' strength of schedule played to their benefit in 2011 and allowed them the opportunity to host an opening-round playoff game.

"Our goal every year is to win the conference and secure a bid to the NCAA playoffs," Frye said. "This last year we were finally able to get over the hump and make the playoffs, and it was a momentum builder for our off-season programs."

Key players: DB Erich Vogelsang; LB Michael Bozarth; DB Thomas Kent; K/P Jordan Gay; RB Monte Scotton

Colonels' schedule

(All times local to school)

Date Opponent Time

Sept. 1 at Bethany 1:30 p.m.

Sept. 8 ROSE-HULMAN 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 15 at Washington and Lee 7 p.m.

Sept. 22 KALAMAZOO 1:30 p.m.

Sept. 29 MILLSAPS 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 6 at Sewanee 2:30 p.m.

Oct. 20 TRINITY 2:30 p.m.

Oct. 27 at Austin 2 p.m.


Nov. 10 at Rhodes 2 p.m.


Coach: John Bland (47-18 in six seasons at Cumberlands)

Last season: 7-3 overall, 4-2 and tied for second in the Mid-South Conference West Division. (The Patriots are moving to the East Division this season.)

Outlook: Quarterback Jay Bright will return after missing the 2011 season with a pre-season knee injury.

"We are excited that he will get to return to play his senior season," Bland said "We feel he will be one of the best quarterbacks in the league this year."

Andrew Brunner, who threw for more than 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns last season, is not back with the team this year.

Nine different Patriots scored rushing touchdowns in 2011. Junior Terrance Cobb returns to anchor the rushing attack in 2012.

"He's big and fast and strong. He is one of the best running backs in the country," Bland said.

Bland said his team has the tools to compete in the Mid-South East Division.

"This conference is strong, but we have to be able to play for four quarters, be able to adjust and face adversity when we face injuries," Bland said. "The league presents a good brand of football — there are some really talented kids out there."

The Patriots ended 2011 with five straight wins.

"We had maybe the strongest finish in school history," Bland said. "We are hoping to take the momentum from that finish into the start of the 2012 season."

Key players: QB Jay Bright; RB Terrance Cobb; WR Willie Gibson; LB Weston Hazelhurst; WR Dekeldric Felton

Patriots' schedule

(All times local to school)

Date Opponent Time

Sept. 1 BELHAVEN 1:30 p.m.

Sept. 8 at Cumberland 2:30 p.m.

Sept. 15 at Union Noon

Sept. 22 PIKEVILLE 1:30 p.m.

Sept. 29 LINDSEY WILSON 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 6 at Faulkner 2:30 p.m.

Oct. 13 at Georgetown 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 20 VIRGINIA-WISE 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 27 CAMPBELLSVILLE 1:30 p.m.

Nov. 3 at Kentucky Christian 1:30 p.m.


Coach: Bill Cronin (145-35 in 15 years at Georgetown)

Last season: 12-1 overall, 5-0 and first in the Mid-South Conference East Division

Outlook: The Tigers, ranked No. 4 in the pre-season NAIA poll, went undefeated in the Mid-South Conference in 2011 and return many of their key offensive weapons.

"It's one of those special years where you have both talent and depth. We still have to stay healthy. It looks on paper like we could be a really good football team," Cronin said. "The team has to put their work hat on and really get after it. We have to stay focused and take it a day at a time."

The Tigers return their starting quarterback, their top two rushers and their top three receivers from last year's squad.

"I thought our team made great progress during the season last year," Cronin said. "Our kids were competitive and wanted to achieve."

The Mid-South Conference has five teams ranked in the NAIA top-25 pre-season poll.

"The Mid-South is very competitive and we will have our work cut out for us. You can't take a week off; our schedule is one that will challenge us the entire year," Cronin said.

"I think we have some maturity and some good leadership on this team, but only time will tell."

Question marks: Who will replace the 2011 Mid-South East Defensive Player of the Year Zach Goebel? He led the Tigers with 78 tackles in 2011.

"You miss everything about a kid like that. He was so passionate about the game. He was a competitor and a talented athlete," Cronin said. "He was our leader on the field, and we counted on him to make the big play."

The Tigers also lost four offensive line starters, including Rimington Award winner Kyle Pettit.

"We are going to be young at offensive line," Cronin said. "The leadership, strength and camaraderie we had built on the offensive line has essentially been lost."

Five Players to Watch

QB Neal Pawsat: In relief of injured senior quarterback Kaelin Ammons, Pawsat became one of the top quarterbacks in the Mid-South Conference and won the East Division Offensive Freshman of the Year award in 2011.

"Neal is a gifted athlete, great kid and great student and has a lot of savvy about the game of football," Cronin said. "I was shocked how well he performed and continued to challenge himself. He has a high ceiling and I look forward to seeing him reach his potential."

The Mason County graduate threw for 2,406 yards and 22 touchdowns against six interceptions in 2011.

WR Chris Gohman: Gohman, a 6-foot-3 senior from Elizabethtown, was Pawsat's top target in 2011, catching 36 passes for 705 yards and six touchdowns.

DB Winston Hines: Hines, a senior from Somerset, was second for the Tigers in 2011 in tackles with 69, including 31 solo tackles.

"He can be an exciting, fiery player that can make some things happen for us," Cronin said.

FB Zach Sower: Sower, a 5-foot-9 fullback from Covington, was one of the top two rushers for Georgetown in 2011. He gained 455 yards on the ground in 94 attempts, and scored three touchdowns.

DB Brandon Lawson: Lawson, a junior from Georgetown, figures to play a more prominent role because of the loss of Goebel. Lawson had 56 tackles and forced two fumbles in 2011.

"He can play free safety or corner for us, we can move him around to different spots," Cronin said. "Very intense, smart player. He is a kid that can get our defense ready to go."

Tigers' schedule

(All times local to school)

Date Opponent Time

Sept. 1 at Bluefield 1 p.m.

Sept. 6FAULKNER 7 p.m.

Sept. 15 at Lindsey Wilson 8 p.m.

Sept. 22 KENTUCKY CHRISTIAN 1:30 p.m.

Sept. 29 BETHEL 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 6 at Campbellsville 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 13 CUMBERLANDS 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 20 at Pikeville 1:30 p.m.

Nov. 3 UNION 1:30 p.m.

Nov. 10 at Virginia-Wise 1:30 p.m.

Ky. Christian

Coach: Mike Furrey (4-7 in one season at Kentucky Christian)

Last season: 4-7 overall, 2-3 and fourth in the Mid-South Conference East Division

Outlook: Sophomore dual-threat quarterback Graham Johnston will lead the Knights. He rushed for more than 500 yards and passed for nearly 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns in his freshman campaign.

"He was a leader when he stepped on the field for the first time as a freshman," Furrey said. "His persona and his character is that of a leader — one we rely on heavily. We are excited to have him back."

Junior running back Deonte Merricks also will make his return after missing the last four games of 2011 with a torn ACL. Merricks averaged 93.7 yards a game and scored five touchdowns in the first seven games last year.

Furrey said he wants the team to focus on getting better every day, and to block out the distractions of both positive and negative expectations.

"We have expectations, but those expectations are about being disciplined, working hard and performing to our best day in and day out and letting the rest take care of itself," Furrey said. "Our goal is not to worry about where we are picked. We want to cause some havoc with some people on Saturdays and see what the outcome will be."

Key players: QB Graham Johnston; RB Deonte Merricks; WR Caleb Cox; TE Rance Hughes; LB Dylan Romero

Knights' schedule

(All times local to school)

Date Opponent Time

Aug. 25 LINDSEY WILSON 1:30 p.m.

Sept. 8 BLUEFIELD 1:30 p.m.

Sept. 15 at North Alabama 7 p.m.

Sept. 22 at Georgetown 1:30 p.m.

Sept. 29 CAMPBELLSVILLE 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 6 at Belhaven 2:30 p.m.

Oct. 13 at Virginia-Wise 6 p.m.

Oct. 20 UNION 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 27 at Pikeville 1:30 p.m.

Nov. 3 CUMBERLANDS 1:30 p.m.

Nov. 10 at Faulkner 3:30 p.m.

Kentucky State

Coach: Wayne Dickens (15-17 in three seasons at Kentucky State)

Last season: 6-4 overall, 3-4 and fourth in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference West Division

Outlook: Dickens said the key to improving on 2011's record is for the Thorobreds to eliminate mistakes and capitalize on the breaks that fall their way.

"The four we dropped (in 2011), we gave away. We made untimely mistakes during the game," Dickens said. "Those mistakes always come back to haunt you. Those were self-inflicted wounds."

The Thorobreds have competition for many starting spots on the offensive side of the ball, having lost many players to graduation.

"We lost three offensive linemen, an all-conference tight end, a second-team all-conference quarterback, our leading ball carrier and our leading receiver," Dickens said. "Beyond that, we are just fine."

Defense will have to carry the Thorobreds, especially in the early season. Dickens returns veteran defenders Gaige Courtney and Bernard Crawford.

"They are three-year starters who have seen a lot of football. They know what we are doing inside and out," Dickens said. "They are able to fix things on the run, and can anticipate where things may break down."

Key players: LB Gaige Courtney; DB Bernard Crawford; K Cade Berryman; RB Jacquise Lockett; WR James Happy III

Thorobreds' schedule

(All times local to school)

Date Opponent Time

Sept. 8 KENTUCKY WESLEYAN 7 p.m. Sept. 15 at Lincoln 7 p.m.

Sept. 22 at Stillman 6 p.m.

Sept. 29 ALBANY STATE 7 p.m.

Oct. 6 at Fort Valley State 6 p.m.

Oct. 13 MILES 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 20 at Tuskegee 1 p.m.

Oct. 27 LANE 1:30 p.m.

Nov. 3 at Morehouse 2 p.m.

Nov. 17 CENTRAL STATE 2 p.m.

KY. Wesleyan

Coach: Brent Holsclaw (18-57 in nine seasons at Kentucky Wesleyan)

Last season: 1-10 overall; will compete in the new Great Lakes Valley Conference in 2012

Outlook: The Panthers have plenty of questions as they gear up for the inaugural season of the Great Lakes Valley Conference. They will have to replace quarterback Chris Owen, who threw for almost 2,000 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2011.

"Chris did everything he could last year to change the outcomes, but it didn't work," Holsclaw said. "Will Barnes would be our starter if we had a game tomorrow, but we don't have a game tomorrow, so the other guys will have a chance to compete. Will is a smart, heady quarterback."

Holsclaw said he really likes the group of players competing for the quarterback job.

"But I don't have four or five competing for every spot on the line, and that is a bigger concern than replacing a record-setting quarterback," Holsclaw said. "The big questions are on the offensive and defensive line. We don't have huge numbers of those guys, so the main challenge is to stay healthy in those positions."

The Panthers do return three of their top four receivers, including Ta'Ron Squires and Shawn Mooney.

"In all our skills positions — receiver, running back, defensive linebacker, secondary and tight end position — I like the talent level and I like our depth," Holsclaw said. "We'll be as good as anybody in our league."

Holsclaw said the team is eager to compete in this first year of the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

"It gives the kids something to play for," Holsclaw said. "You can compete for the conference championship and for ranking in the super-regional and get to the playoffs."

The Panthers were picked last in the pre-season GLVC coaches' poll.

"If you look at last year's results, the expectations are not very high," Holsclaw said.

"We've got nothing to lose. We have a lot of questions marks, but there are a lot of positives here, too."

Key players: DB Jeff Ward; WR Ta'Ron Squires; WR Shawn Mooney; DL Justin Blosser; LB Matt Smith; QB Will Barnes

Panthers' schedule

(All times local to school)

Date Opponent Time

Aug. 30 WALSH 6 p.m.

Sept. 8 at Kentucky State 6 p.m.

Sept. 15 at William Jewell 1 p.m.

Sept. 22 at Missouri S&T 6:30 p.m.

Sept. 29 McKENDREE 6 p.m.

Oct. 6 URBANA 1 p.m.


Oct. 20 INDIANAPOLIS 1 p.m.

Oct. 27 SAINT JOSEPH'S 2 p.m.

Nov. 3 at Quincy 1 p.m.

Nov. 10 at Central State 12:30 p.m.

Lindsey Wilson

Coach: Chris Oliver (12-9 in two seasons at Lindsey Wilson)

Last season: 7-3 overall, 3-2 and tied for second in the Mid-South Conference East Division

Outlook: The Blue Raiders return one of the top quarterbacks in the Mid-South Conference in Branden Cresap. The Collins High School graduate threw for 2,752 and 21 touchdowns in his freshman season in 2011.

"He is a great leader who has a great understanding of our offense and what we want to do with the football," Oliver said. "It's nice to have a guy with 10 starts under his belt, even though he is only a sophomore."

Nine different receivers caught touchdown passes last year for Oliver.

"Wide receiver is probably the deepest position on our roster," he said. "We have some gifted players who can make plays after catching the ball."

The Blue Raiders play multiple running backs and averaged 123 yards a game on the ground last season.

"We're always a pass-to-set-up-the-run type of team, but I think we are going to be more efficient with our run opportunities this year," Oliver said. "We are deep and talented at the running back position, and I think we are going to have a few more explosive runs this year."

The Blue Raiders return their entire starting offensive line, and Oliver said his linemen are becoming more physical.

"We have a lot of guys coming back and a lot of experienced guys on the roster," he said. "That is encouraging. We have to go out and prove ourselves."

Key players: QB Branden Cresap; WR Chaz Barnes; WR Matt Powers; WR Shannan Coofer; LB Sam Wilson

Blue Raiders' schedule

(All times local to school)

Date Opponent Time

Aug. 25 at Kentucky Christian 12:30 p.m.

Sept. 1 UNION 1:30 p.m.

Sept. 8 at Pikeville 12:30 p.m.

Sept. 15 GEORGETOWN 7 p.m.

Sept. 22 at Faulkner 1:30 p.m.

Sept. 29 at Cumberlands 12:30 p.m.

Oct. 13 at Campbellsville 12:30 p.m.

Oct. 20 BELHAVEN 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 27 at Bluefield Noon

Nov. 3 BETHEL 1:30 p.m.

Nov. 10 CUMBERLAND 1:30 p.m.

Morehead State

Coach: Matt Ballard (90-84 in 18 seasons at Morehead State)

Last season: 3-8 overall, 2-6 and tied for eighth in the Pioneer League

Outlook: Ballard is entering his 19th year at Morehead with enthusiasm about his team and his program.

"At this level, I dare say not many programs have the atmosphere and excitement that we do. The cheerleaders scream from one end of the stadium to the other, and we have the baddest band in the land," Ballard said. "The atmosphere is drop-dead gorgeous and then you have the three-ring circus on the field with the style of play that we employ. It's a lot of fun here."

With quarterback Zach Lewis leading the team, the Eagles led the Pioneer League in passing offense, total offense and scoring in 2011.

"We're going to throw it all over the schoolyard," Ballard said about their strategy. " It's real simple — throw it to the guys they aren't covering."

Despite the lethal offense, the Eagles struggled to put together wins.

"Last year seems like a million years ago. We lost four ball games in the last minute and two on the last play of the games," Ballard said. "We could have easily won four more games. I think those results gave our guys a little more fuel for the fire and a little more determination during the off-season."

Ballard said his team has gained confidence from their hard work in the spring and in off-season conditioning, and is poised to make some noise in the Pioneer League in 2012.

"Pre-season ranking don't mean lickety-split. It's who finishes the fourth quarter. It is a very talented and well-coached league. Anyone can beat us on a given week if we don't do the things we need to do," Ballard said. "Conversely, if they take us lightly or don't finish strong they will be disappointed that Morehead State got the best of them."

Question marks: Although they are a pass-first offense, the Eagles will still miss their leading running back from last year, Desmond Cox, who gained more than 1,000 yards in 2011 and scored nine TDs.

Ballard said the plan is to use a group of backs to attempt to fill the void.

"Every back we have back there is a different type of back," Ballard said. "We're going to use their strengths to our advantage."

Five Players to Watch

QB Zach Lewis: Lewis, from Clay County, threw for more than 3,500 yards and 28 touchdowns during his junior season in 2011.

"I don't think there is a finer quarterback in the country than Zach Lewis. He is the I-AA version of Drew Brees. If you have never seen him play and you want to know what kind of quarterback he is, picture Drew Brees," Ballard said. "He is a field general with the best eyes in the country. He is an amazing quarterback."

WR Donte Sawyer: Sawyer led the Eagles in receptions (60), receiving yards (904) and receiving touchdowns (12) in 2011.

"He is a wideout with a linebacker mentality. If there is anybody in the country that has worked harder than this young man, I'd like to see him," Ballard said. "The guy wants the ball every time, and there is nobody that works any harder in the weight room."

DL Aaron Meadows: "He is a hometown player," Ballard said of Meadows. "He is a swing guy that can play both defensive end and defensive tackle. He is a high-character guy that always works extremely hard and has a smile on face."

The 6-foot-2 junior from Bath County played in 11 games in 2011, making 15 tackles.

DL Nick Wagoner: Wagoner missed much of 2011 with injuries, but is earning the pre-season praise of Ballard.

"The neck, shoulders and chest on this guy are unbelievable. He is just a tough guy," Ballard said. "He has battled injury problems. If we keep him healthy, his presence makes us better in a hurry."

K Rainer Duzan: Duzan performed almost all of the kicking duties for the Eagles in 2011, including kickoffs, field-goals and punts.

He hit 49 of 51 extra-point attempts and 12 of 17 field goals, including a long of 49 yards.

"How many teams have a kicker that is one of the leaders of the team?" Ballard asked. "He is a tremendous athlete. He works real hard and is just a great guy. It's pretty cool when you have a kicker that is one of the most respected players on the team."

Eagles' schedule

(All times local to school)

Date Opponent Time


Sept. 8 at Eastern Kentucky 6 p.m.

Sept. 15 SAINT FRANCIS (PENN.) 1 p.m.

Sept. 22 at Drake 2 p.m.

Oct. 6 JACKSONVILLE 1 p.m.

Oct. 13 at Dayton 1 p.m.

Oct. 20 at Butler 6 p.m.

Oct. 27 CAMPBELL 1 p.m.

Nov. 3 DAVIDSON 1 p.m.

Nov. 10 at San Diego 9 p.m.

Nov. 17 VALPARAISO 1 p.m.

Murray State

Coach: Chris Hatcher (13-9 in two seasons at Murray State, 107-36 in 11 seasons overall)

Last season: 7-4 overall, 5-3 and fourth in the Ohio Valley Conference

Outlook: Hatcher thinks that returning senior quarterback Casey Brockman, who leads the Racers' "Hatch Attack" offense, could possibly produce an OVC title run.

"We are very excited to start the new season. We have some key returnees, but we are going to have to rely on some untested players in key positions," Hatcher said. "We are looking forward to competing and hopefully in November we will be in the hunt for an OVC championship."

The Racers return junior running back Duane Brady, who was second on the team in rushing (25.7 yards per game) behind Mike Harris (101.8), who graduated.

"We have to find a good running back. Brady played a bunch for us last year, but we have nobody behind him," Hatcher said. "We are going to rely on some junior-college players and some true freshmen. So far they look good, but we are going to be very young in depth at that position."

Question marks: The Racers return eight starters on defense from last year, when they gave up 395 yards and 28.5 points a game.

They begin the season in a tough way — a Sept. 1 matchup in Tallahassee against Florida State, which is ranked seventh in the Associated Press pre-season poll.

"It will be good experience for our players and our staff. We are going to go down there and play our best and see what happens. We are not going to let that one game define our season one way or another," Hatcher said. "It'll be a fun day for our guys, a chance to play in a big-time stadium against a top-10 opponent right off the get-go."

Five Players to Watch

QB Casey Brockman: Brockman averaged nearly 300 passing yards per game last season, throwing for 3,276 yards and 25 touchdowns.

"He is a great leader and has experience in our system. The guys believe in him," Hatcher said. "His knowledge of the offense and what we are trying to get done is huge, and hopefully year three (in this system) will be his biggest year yet."

LB Qua Huzzie: Huzzie joined the Racers last season after transferring from Kentucky and ranked third on the team with 80 tackles while leading the Racers and the OVC with 14 tackles for loss.

"He will be our leader for our linebackers," Hatcher said. "He is just a fine football player."

WR Walter Powell: Powell, a six-foot receiver from St. Louis, was one of Brockman's top targets in 2011. He had 45 receptions for 584 yards in his sophomore season, scoring five touchdowns.

DE Kevin Robinson: Robinson played in all 11 games in 2011, posting 36 tackles and 10.5 tackles-for-loss.

"He led the league in sacks last year, and he has done nothing but get better," Hatcher said.

LB Sam Small: Small, a 6-foot-1 senior from Winona, Miss., is a 2012 Preseason All-OVC linebacker. He led the Racers in tackles in 2011 with 115, including a season-high 16 against Eastern Kentucky.

Racers' schedule

(All times local to school)

Date Opponent Time

Sept. 1 at Florida State 5 p.m.


Sept. 15 at Missouri State 7 p.m.

Sept. 22 at Eastern Illinois 6:30 p.m.

Sept. 29 TENNESSEE TECH 6 p.m.

Oct. 6 at Austin Peay 6 p.m.


Oct. 27 at Jacksonville State 3 p.m.


Nov. 10 at Eastern Kentucky Noon



Coach: Dudley Hilton (4-6 in one season at Pikeville)

Last season: 4-6 overall, 1-4 and tied for fifth in the Mid-South Conference East Division

Outlook: Pikeville was 0-3 in games decided by less than a touchdown in 2011.

"I thought it was a great team with just four seniors last year," Hilton said. "We lost three games in the last five seconds of the game, and those could have easily went the other way."

Tight end Brent Slusher will re-start his collegiate career at Pikeville in 2012 after stops at both Auburn and Tennessee.

"He is not medically 100 percent, but he is close to being back," Hilton said. "He is really going to add to our football team as we get into the season."

Returning to lead the Bears in 2012 is quarterback Trevor Hoskins from Middlesboro, who threw for 2,654 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2011.

"I think we start more Kentucky kids than any college in the state," Hilton said. "I am proud of that."

Key players: QB Trevor Hoskins; WR Jordan Amis; WR Tanner Napier; RB Hunter Adams; LB John Dudley Hilton; K Grayson Quick

Bears' schedule

(All times local to school)

Date Opponent Time

Aug. 25 at Bluefield 1 p.m.

Sept. 1 at Campbellsville 6 p.m.

Sept. 8 LINDSEY WILSON 1:30 p.m.

Sept. 15 VIRGINIA-WISE 6 p.m.

Sept. 22 at Cumberlands 1:30 p.m.

Sept. 29 CUMBERLAND 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 6 at Bethel 2:30 p.m.

Oct. 20 GEORGETOWN 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 27 KENTUCKY CHRISTIAN 1:30 p.m.

Nov. 3 at Belhaven 2:30 p.m.

Nov. 10 at Union 1:30 p.m.

Thomas More

Coach: Jim Hilvert (43-13 in five seasons at Thomas More)

Last season: 9-2 overall, 7-1 and first in the Presidents' Athletic Conference

Outlook: A deep and talented group of running backs led Thomas More to nearly 200 rushing yards a game last season and a fourth straight spot in the Division III playoffs.

The rushing attack is led by junior Domonique Hayden, a Lexington Christian Academy graduate who scored 16 touchdowns for the Saints in 2011.

"He is very humble. Works his tail off, even in the off-season," Hilvert said of Hayden. "He just goes about his business."

Hilvert said that success this season will be fueled by the offensive line.

"We have all the guys back, and some great experience there with Jeremy Hoop, Kevin Naltner, Kevin Eads, Danny Mohs and Mac Stevens," Hilvert said.

The Saints are looking to air it out a bit more in 2012.

"We are going to keep teams off balance; they won't be able to load nine defenders in the box to stop Domonique and Landon (Savoy)," Hilvert said. "We are going to go over the top to some of our playmakers, too. We are going to be more dangerous as an offense."

Hilvert said the Saints were able to capture the Presidents' Athletic Conference championship and advance to the playoffs by stopping the big play last year.

"We make teams drive the whole field and keep the ball in front of us. We don't let them get easy touchdowns," Hilvert said. "Teams have a hard time sustaining 12- and 15-play drives."

Hilvert said the Saints can continue their post-season streak in 2012.

"I'm excited about this year's team," Hilvert said. "We have some good experienced leaders coming back."

Key players: QB Luke Magness; RB Domonique Hayden; WR Austin Studer; OL Jeremy Hoop; DL Jay Volker

Saints' schedule

(All times local to school)

Date Opponent Time

Sept. 1 at St. John Fisher 6 p.m.

Sept. 15 WESTMINSTER 1:30 p.m.

Sept. 22 at Waynesburg 1:30 p.m. Sept. 29 at Geneva 1 p.m.


Oct. 13 THIEL 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 20 at Grove City 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 27 SAINT VINCENT 1:30 p.m.

Nov. 3 at Bethany 1 p.m.

Nov. 10 MOUNT ST. JOSEPH 1 p.m.


Coach: Tommy Reid (44-69 in 10 seasons at Union)

Last season: 2-9 overall, 1-5 and tied for last in the Mid-South Conference West Division

Outlook: Quarterback Mike Brinkley returns for his senior season after missing most of 2011 because of an opening-game knee injury.

"He was a three-year starter for us," Reid said. "With him back in command and healthy, we feel very optimistic about what we are going to be able to accomplish on the offensive side of the ball."

Ryan Moses, who will be second-string quarterback in 2012, filled in well after Brinkley's injury, throwing for nearly 2,300 yards and 17 touchdowns.

"He earned the starting position after Brinkley went down," Reid said. "Moses did really progress well during the season last year."

The Union coaches sometimes jokingly lament that they can only play with one football at a time because they have so many play-making wideouts.

"We feel like we have 12 kids that are going to be on the field for us at the wide receiver position," Reid said. "We have a lot of depth at the receiver position. From a skill-position perspective on offense, we have a bunch of kids that can do some great things for us."

Senior running back Rob Brown averaged 100 yards a game in 2011 and scored 10 touchdowns.

"Our philosophy is that we would like to be as balanced as possible and spread the opponent's defense out," Reid said. "We like to take what the defense allows us to have."

The Bulldogs feel they can compete in the Mid-South Conference as they move to the East Division in 2012.

"We're very optimistic," Reid said. "We felt like we were a much better team last year than our record showed."

Key players: QB Mike Brinkley; RB Rob Brown; WR Deron Hicks; DB Josh Nixon; DB Bert Brown

Bulldogs' schedule

(All times local to school)

Date Opponent Time

Sept. 1 at Lindsey Wilson 2:30 p.m.

Sept. 8 at Campbellsville 7 p.m.


Sept. 22 at Webber International Noon

Sept. 29 BLUEFIELD Noon

Oct. 6 at Cumberland 2:30 p.m.

Oct. 13 BETHEL Noon

Oct. 20 at Kentucky Christian 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 27 VIRGINIA-WISE 1:30 p.m.

Nov. 3 at Georgetown 1:30 p.m.

Nov. 10 PIKEVILLE 1:30 p.m.

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