College football state schools previews, including Georgetown, Morehead State and Kentucky State

August 24, 2014 


Coach: Perry Thomas (30-36 in six seasons)

Last season: 4-6, 3-2 and finished tied for third place in the Mid-South West Division.

Outlook: Campbellsville is picked to finish in fourth place in the Mid-South West Division, similar to last season, but the lack of a prominent team in the division allows the Tigers to think bigger than mid-pack.

Four losses in the last five games (three games against top-12 teams) tempered a 2-0 start in conference last year. The defense gave up 188 points in the final three games, all losses.

Freshman quarterback Eli Mitchell finished spring practice by throwing for 220 yards and three touchdowns in the spring game, but incumbent quarterback Tajh Milliken still has a firm grasp on the starting job.

Key players: QB Tajh Milliken, LB Blake Young, WR Jarrod Harrington, DL Dekwain Tarrance, DB Rashaud Hill

Tigers' Schedule

Date Opponent Time

Aug. 28Lindsey Wilson7:30 p.m.


Sept. 20 BETHEL 1:30 p.m.

Sept. 27 at Belhaven 2:30 p.m.

Oct. 4 at Kentucky Christian 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 11 GEORGETOWN 2 p.m.

Oct. 25 at Cumberland 2:30 p.m.

Nov. 1 at Cumberlands 1:30 p.m.

Nov. 8 FAULKNER 1:30 p.m.

Nov. 15 at Reinhardt 2:30 p.m.


Coach: Andy Frye (100-60 in 16 seasons)

Last season: 7-3, 4-2 and finished tied for second place in the Southern Athletic Association.

Outlook: Coach Andy Frye will tie former Centre coach Joe McDaniel for the program lead in wins with his next win for the Colonels.

He'll rely on a glut of talented returnees on defense to challenge for the SAA title. Eight starters return, including All-SAA defensive linemen Devon Freeman, Paul Megilligan and Tami Aderoba. The Colonels also have defensive end Rue Hockensmith, a 2012 All-SAA performer who missed time last year because of injury.

Offensively, senior quarterback Heath Haden returns after a 2,500-yard season. Heath will begin his third season as the starter without his top rusher and top five pass catchers from 2013.

Centre spent a long spring preparing for a trip to Ireland, where it defeated the semi-professional Dublin Rebels 90-0 on May 31.

Key players: QB Heath Haden, DE Devon Freeman, DT Paul Megilligan, LB Nick Dietz, S Sam Spees

Colonels' Schedule

Date Opponent Time

Sept. 6 HANOVER 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 13 at Defiance 1:30 p.m.

Sept. 20 at Washington and Lee 7 p.m.

Sept. 27 WASHINGTON (MO.) 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 11 BERRY 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 18 at Sewanee 2 p.m.

Oct. 25 RHODES 2:30 p.m.

Nov. 1 at Hendrix 2 p.m.

Nov. 8 MILLSAPS 1:30 p.m.

Nov. 15 at Birmingham Southern 2 p.m.


Coach: Matt Rhymer (First season)

Last season: 13-1, 6-0 and finished in first place in the Mid-South East Division.

Outlook: New head coach Matt Rhymer inherits a program that reached the NAIA national championship game last season, and his focus during the offseason has been continuity.

"It's not only what the previous coaching staff was about, but it is about what the coaching staff when I was playing for Cumberlands (from 2004-07) was about, too," he said. "We're trying to build on what they've already done."

Rhymer is the first Cumberlands alumnus to lead the football program, an honor he appreciates.

"I was at the national championship, and I saw all the alumni and fans come out," he said. "It was great to see the support there. Now we want to get back."

Key players: QB Adam Craig, RB Hunter Lewis, DE Zack Bull, LB Robert McCormick, RB Iquan Deed

patriots' schedule

Date Opponent Time

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

Sept. 13 BELHAVEN 1:30 p.m.

Sept. 20 at Union 7 p.m.

Sept. 27 PIKEVILLE 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 4 at Lindsey Wilson 2:30 p.m.

Oct. 18 at Georgetown 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 25 REINHARDT 12:30 p.m.

Nov. 1 CAMPBELLSVILLE 12:30 p.m.

Nov. 8 at Kentucky Christian 1:30 p.m.

Nov. 15 BLUEFIELD 12:30 p.m.


Coach: Bill Cronin (162-40 in 17 seasons)

Last season: 7-4 overall; 5-1 and second place in Mid-South East. Lost in the first round of the NAIA playoffs, 38-28 to Carroll.

Outlook: "I like the group of guys that we've got coming in," Coach Bill Cronin said. "I think the chemistry is strong. The work ethic is really good compared to the last couple years. I think this will be a team that has to grow along the way."

Cronin expects his offense to step up in coordinator Eddie Eviston's second season. "Last year, it was just a matter of players getting used to his style as compared to what we had in the past," Cronin said. "He brings a couple things, a couple of tweaks, to our offense that will help us improve overall. I see our offense getting a little more potent."

Defense has always been strong under coordinator Shan Housekeeper, and Cronin doesn't expect that to change.

Another strong suit could be special teams, where place-kicker Josh Depp and punter Jarrod Combs return.

Three newcomers who could make a quick impact are linebacker Terry Johnson, wide receiver Richard Grimes and multi-purpose player Tyler Jones.

Question marks: The Tigers must replace 24 seniors from last year's team. Depth is a question, too. Cronin might turn to his freshmen sooner than he'd like.

"The offensive line, we're going to be young to start with," he said. "But then if we get a couple injuries, we're probably going to be into true freshmen. I like the group of offensive linemen from the spring that we had, and I think the size and so forth have improved even with the freshmen. But that's one area you don't want to have freshmen playing."

The Tigers also are thin on the defensive line and, in the event of injury, might have to use freshmen there as well.

players to watch

QB Neal Pawsat: A fourth-year starter from Mason County, "he just continues to improve," Cronin said. "I really like what I've seen this summer. He's thrown the ball well; he's throwing it and delivering it quicker. He really understands the offense."

DE Nick Seither: "He's grown a lot as a football player and as a student-athlete," Cronin said. "He's got great size. He's got good strength. He's got speed. I think he's a guy that, if things go well and he has a good year, some NFL scouts will probably talk to him."

WR Ben Patenaude: In addition to wide receiver, he is a long-snapper and returns kicks. "He's just full of energy and enthusiasm," Cronin said. "He's just passionate for the game. ... He's a guy that's dependable. He's always going to run the right route. He's always going to find a way to get open."

FS Jaylan Bailey: Also capable at cornerback, "he gives us that depth in the secondary that you've got to have in case you do have some injuries," Cronin said. "He understands the game extremely well. He's just always in the right place at the right time."

FB Demonte Smith: A four-year player, he takes over the starting role from graduate Zach Sowder. "He's more of a downhill runner," Cronin said. "He's got some thickness to him. He's a little bit bigger. He's got surprising speed."

Tigers' schedule

Date Opponent Time

Sept. 13 BETHEL 1:30 p.m.

Sept. 20 at Lindenwood-Belleville 2:30 p.m.

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

Oct. 4 FAULKNER 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 11 at Campbellsville 2 p.m.

Oct. 18 CUMBERLANDS 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 25 at Pikeville 1:30 p.m.

Nov. 1 at Bluefield 1:30 p.m.

Nov. 8 UNION 1:30 p.m.

Nov. 15 at Lindsey Wilson 2:30 p.m.

Kentucky Christian

Coach: Gene Peterson (3-8 in one season)

Last season: 3-8, 2-4 and tied for fifth place in the Mid-South East Division.

Outlook: Peterson has a task in his second year — get the program back to the levels of 2012.

That season, the Knights won five of their final six games en route to a 7-4 season that could have been sweeter depending on two close losses to Campbellsville and Cumberlands.

But the sledding will be tough with two top 20 conference foes and a difficult non-conference schedule to navigate.

"The game with Tennessee Tech will be a first for the Knights, as we have yet to play a Division I FCS team," Peterson said. "It should be a great start to the season."

Peterson will have sophomore quarterback Cody Sabol to lead the offense. Sabol saw more time under center as his freshman season progressed in 2013 and will have the inside track to the starting job.

Key players: QB Cody Sabol, LB Andrew Stewart, CB Mike Ritter Jr., DE Darryl Jones, C Blake Clowes

Knights' schedule

Date Opponent Time

Aug. 28 at Tennessee Tech 6:30 p.m.

Sept. 6 at Bethel 1:30 p.m.

Sept. 13 at Reinhardt 1:30 p.m.

Sept. 20Bluefield1:30 p.m.

Sept. 27 at Georgetown 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 4Campbellsville1:30 p.m.

Oct. 11Lindsey Wilson1:30 p.m.

Oct. 25Union1:30 p.m.

Nov. 1 at Pikeville 1:30 p.m.

Nov. 8Cumberlands1:30 p.m.

Nov. 15 at Faulkner 1:30 p.m.

Kentucky State

Coach: Josh Dean (5-5 in one season)

Last season: 5-5, 3-4 and finished in sixth place in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference West Division.

Outlook: Dean has immersed himself in the last 22 months at Kentucky State as the head of a team that won two games in 2012.

A three-win improvement in 2013 has Dean excited about what is now "a program, and not just a football team."

The culture will continue to morph as Kentucky State will rely on the running game as its top two rushers and four of five starting offensive linemen return from last season. KSU will also use a versatile group of linebackers to mix up his defensive formations.

As for Dean, he will shift his primary focus away from defense and spend time around all three phases of the game.

"I want to focus more of my time on special teams because it's a place where we can be better at," he said. "I'll push some time for offense too. I learned the importance of balancing my time as a head coach last year."

Key players: RB Jacquise Lockett, OL Chad Rives, LB Terry Horton, LB Travon Spencer, S Jermaine Graham

Thorobreds?? schedule

Date Opponent Time

Sept. 4Kentucky Wesleyan7 p.m.

Sept. 13 at Johnson C. Smith 2 p.m.

Sept. 20Virginia State4 p.m.

Sept. 27 at Stillman 4 p.m.

Oct. 4 x-Central State 3 p.m.

Oct. 11 at Fort Valley State 2 p.m.

Oct. 18 MILES 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 25 at Tuskegee 2 p.m.

Nov. 1 LANE 1 p.m.

Nov. 8 at Morehouse 2 p.m.

x-at IndianapolisKentucky Wesleyan

Coach: Brent Holsclaw (entering 12th season, the longest for any Panthers coach)

Last season: 0-11, 0-7 and finished in eighth place in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

Outlook: The Panthers return 13 starters from a winless 2013 season.

The Panthers are without a conference this year, which means their schedule is a mix of Division II, NAIA and FCS foes and includes road trips to North Dakota and Virginia.

On the field, linebackers Cody Mills and Vasco Billberry will spark the defense as preseason honorable-mention All-Americans. Keelan Cole will be the primary offensive weapon, replacing Jeff Ward, who was a second-team all-conference member after scoring 11 touchdowns last season.

Key players: OT C.W. Decker, LB Vasco Billberry, WR Keelan Cole, LB Cody Mills

Panthers' schedule

Date Opponent Time

Sept. 4 at Kentucky State 7 p.m.

Sept. 13 at Lindsey Wilson 7 p.m.

Sept. 20 at Trinity Bible 1 p.m.

Sept. 27 at Arizona Christian 10:15 p.m.

Oct. 4 FAITH 2 p.m.

Oct. 11 at Warner 1 p.m.


Oct. 25 at Murray State 4 p.m.

Nov. 1 LIMESTONE 2 p.m.

Nov. 8 at Virginia-Lynchburg 1 p.m.


Lindsey Wilson

Coach: Chris Oliver (23-20 in four seasons)

Last season: 8-3, 3-3 and finished tied for third place in the Mid-South East Division.

Outlook: The No. 18 ranked Blue Raiders are one of five Mid-South Conference teams who are ranked in the NAIA Coaches' Top 25 poll.

Yet, Lindsey Wilson was picked to finish third in the Mid-South East Division behind state rivals Cumberlands and Georgetown College. The Blue Raiders lost to both teams in 2013, giving Cumberlands its sternest test in the regular season last season (a seven-point win for Cumberlands).

Lindsey Wilson will get each team at home this year, and will lean on a strong senior class led by captain and quarterback Branden Cresap, who threw 31 touchdowns last year but struggled against Georgetown in the season finale. Former Western Kentucky running back Dakota Brown, a fellow captain, returns as the Raiders' leading rusher.

Key players: QB Branden Cresap, RB Dakota Brown, WR Chaz Barnes, DL Corrion Cooper, DL Andrew Wahl

Blue Raiders' schedule

Date Opponent Time

Aug. 28 at Campbellsville 6:30 p.m.

Sept. 6 REINHARDT 1:30 p.m.


Sept. 20 at Pikeville 12:30 p.m.

Sept. 27 at Faulkner 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 4 CUMBERLANDS 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 11 at Kentucky Christian 12:30 p.m.

Oct. 25 BELHAVEN 1:30 p.m.

Nov. 1 UNION 1:30 p.m.

Nov. 8 at Bluefield 12:30 p.m.

Nov. 15 GEORGETOWN 1:30 p.m.

Morehead State

Coach: Rob Tenyer (3-9 in one season)

Last season: 3-9 overall; 3-5 and eighth place in Pioneer Football League.

Outlook: Skill level, speed and depth are all up, according to Coach Rob Tenyer.

"When I compare from last year at this point to this year, I know that we're a better football team," he said. "I think we understand our schemes on both sides of the football much better. I think that this year we'll have more depth overall, and I think we have more of a versatile football team."

Tenyer says he had 64 players, including 32 freshmen, on campus during July. He's upbeat that the freshmen were able to meet with coaches, do film study, get to know the playbook and familiarize themselves with terminology, schemes and philosophy.

"Defensively, we're an even-front team. We want to keep the ball in front of us," Tenyer said. "We want to try to defend the run much better. We were not very good on defense, so we've got to be able to stop the run, force people to throw the football and compete, bring some pressure."

On offense, the Eagles will stay with a high-octane, no-huddle look. Tenyer says he'd like to run 90 plays a game. Morehead will throw the football to set up the run.

Question marks: Offensive line depth is a concern, along with a young corps of wide receivers. Kitaro Lewis, who caught 49 balls for 529 yards last year, is out for the season because of an Achilles injury. Cyrus Strahm will move outside to fill Lewis' spot. On defense, the outside linebacker spots are questions.

players to watch

CB Justin Grier: "I think (he) is really close to being an NFL-caliber player at cornerback. He's got all the measurements and had an outstanding spring," Tenyer said. "Can play press coverage; he play can play off man; he can play a zone corner. He's really top-notch."

RB Rees Macshara: He had a 1,000-yard season as a sophomore, but the Eagles struggled to run the ball last year when he gained 534 yards. "I anticipate him having a great year," Tenyer said. "He's worked hard, he's put weight on, he's added strength, and I think he's a bit faster as well."

WR/QB/KR Brandon Bornhauser: He'll play an inside slot position and even quarterback in "Wildcat" situations. The fifth-year senior also is a preseason All-America kick returner.

SS Mike Jackson: "Great kid. ... Great work ethic," Tenyer said. "He's put some muscle mass on. He can do both things — he can play some matchup (zone), he can play man-to-man coverage. He's a young man that we'll use in some blitz packages off the edge as well."

DE Ronald Cooper: "He's a player that could possibly, if he really had a breakout year, be in the top five in FCS in sacks," Tenyer said. "He's that type of caliber, and I'm going to push him."

Eagles' schedule

Date Opponent Time

Aug. 30 at Richmond 6 p.m.

Sept. 6 PIKEVILLE 6 p.m.

Sept. 13 at Eastern Kentucky 6 p.m.

Sept. 20 at Davidson 1 p.m.

Oct. 4 CAMPBELL 1 p.m.

Oct. 11 JACKSONVILLE 1 p.m.

Oct. 18 at Dayton 1 p.m.

Oct. 25 VALPARAISO 1 p.m.

Nov. 1 at Butler Noon

Nov. 8 at San Diego 4 p.m.

Nov. 15 STETSON 1 p.m.

Nov. 22 at Charlotte Noon

Murray State

Coach: Chris Hatcher (24-21 in four seasons)

Last season: 6-6 overall; 4-4 and tied for fifth place in Ohio Valley Conference

Outlook: The Racers return seven starters on offense, six on defense.

"We're extremely excited," Coach Chris Hatcher said. "We're going to be very young at the skill positions, very inexperienced. But we're very talented."

If that talent pans out, skill positions could actually be a strength for the Racers.

"It's still too early to tell," Hatcher said. "I've got to get out there and see what these guys can do. I thought we had an excellent signing class. We had a lot of guys we red-shirted last year, because we had so many seniors, that have shown a lot of promise in spring ball. If they perform like I think they're capable of, it could definitely be a strength heading into the season."

On offense, the Racers will spread it out, similar to what Neal Brown's approach is at Kentucky.

Defensively, Murray uses a three-man front and "we try to get after you and put pressure on the quarterback," Hatcher said.

"We're just very optimistic. We've been kind of knocking on the door — we've been in the hunt for a conference title the last three years (and) come up a little short the last couple of games. We're looking forward. Maybe this will be the year we have a breakthrough season."

Question marks: "The thing that scares me the most," Hatcher said, "is the lack of experience that we have in the secondary, at the wide receiver position and running back."

players to watch

QB C.J. Bennett: A senior who is in a battle to start, he has "a very good touch on the ball," Hatcher said. "The key is can he take care of the football?"

QB K.D. Humphries: The redshirt sophomore "has a big arm," Hatcher said. "We're just looking for somebody that's going to be very consistent throughout the year."

WR Jesse Blackburn: An integral part of the Racers' overtime win over Eastern Kentucky last year, he's "a big target, and we just expect him to be one of the best in the conference this year," Hatcher said.

OLB Travis Taylor: Hatcher describes Taylor as "rangy, athletic. ... He's a good pass-rusher, pretty much does it all for us. He needs to have a big year."

MLB Perry Cooper: "He's the quarterback over there on defense," Hatcher said. "He's got to do a good job of making sure all those young guys get lined up properly each and every snap."

Racers' schedule

Date Opponent Time

Aug. 28 UNION 7 p.m.

Sept. 6 at Louisville 6 p.m.

Sept. 20 at Western Michigan 6 p.m.


Oct. 4 at Tennessee Tech 7 p.m.


Oct. 18 at Austin Peay 6 p.m.



Nov. 8 at Eastern Illinois Noon

Nov. 15 at Eastern Kentucky Noon

Nov. 22 TENNESSEE STATE 1 p.m.


Coach: Allan Holland Jr. (first season)

Last season: 7-4 overall; 3-3 and tied for third place in Mid-South East

Outlook: Pikeville has a new coach in Holland Jr., who took over Aug. 11 after Dudley Hilton resigned for personal and health reasons.

"It's the first time we've really had senior leadership," Holland said. "We've got 22 seniors this year, and we've got our starting quarterback coming back, A.J. Graham. And then Coach Hilton's son, John Dudley Hilton, our leading tackler on the team, holds the record here for tackles and was a first-team all-conference guy. And Shawntez Johnson, a 6-3, 6-4 wideout that was an all-conference player last year."

The big question for the Bears is depth.

Graham, a redshirt junior, will trigger a spread offense — "the same thing we've been running the past four years here," Holland said.

A 3-4 defensive alignment is spearheaded by senior linebacker Hilton.

"Great spirit and really working hard with a lot of experience for the first time, it could be an exciting year for this program," Holland said.

Key players: QB A.J. Graham; LB John Dudley Hilton; OL Brandon Ball; WR Shawntez Johnson; WR Shawnta' Zachary

Bears' schedule

Date Opponent Time

Aug. 28 at Bluefield 6:30 p.m.

Sept. 6 at Morehead State 6 p.m.

Sept. 13 EDWARD WATERS 1:30 p.m.

Sept. 20 LINDSEY WILSON 1:30 p.m.

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

Oct. 4 CUMBERLAND 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 18 at Bethel 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 25 GEORGETOWN 1:30 p.m.


Nov. 8 at Belhaven 1:30 p.m.

Nov. 15 at Union 1:30 p.m.

Thomas More

Coach: Jim Hilvert (59-17 in seven seasons)

Last season: 9-1 overall; 7-1 and tied for first in Presidents Athletic Conference

Outlook: The Saints, a preseason top-25 team, return 18 starters.

The strength of the team is its experience.

Thomas More had plenty of postseason motivation, having just missed out on the Division III playoffs. Hilvert says the Saints have a chip on their shoulder.

There are plenty of weapons on offense, starting with Domonique Hayden, an All-American and last year's conference MVP. The Lexington Christian Academy graduate led NCAA Division III with a school-record 2,017 yards rushing (201.7 yards per game) and had 25 TDs. He also had 10 catches for 217 yards and three touchdowns.

"We like to hand the ball off to Domonique Hayden, keep it simple," Hilvert said with a laugh. "But, no, I feel like we have a good mix. We like to be balanced, run and pass. Obviously, having a back such as Domonique Hayden helps. We have a lot of returning receivers that are very good, players like Bobby Leonard, Ryan Winkler, Goose Cohorn, our tight end Cody Hinkel. So a lot of our skill guys are coming back. I think (that puts) teams in a tough bind — are you going to stop our running game or are you going to defend our pass?"

Key players: RB Domonique Hayden; WR Goose Cohorn; OT Jake Henderson; DE Erick Butler; FS Kyle Fuller.

Saints' schedule

Date Opponent Time

Sept. 6 at Wesley 1 p.m.

Sept. 13 at Hanover 1:30 p.m.

Sept. 20 at Thiel 1 p.m.

Sept. 27 WESTMINSTER 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 4 at Washington and Jefferson 7 p.m.

Oct. 11 at Geneva 2 p.m.

Oct. 18 SAINT VINCENT 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 25 GROVE CITY 1:30 p.m.

Nov. 1 at Waynesburg 1:30 p.m.



Coach: Zak Willis (first season)

Last season: 3-8 overall; 2-4 and fifth place in Mid-South East

Outlook: Zak Willis was named head coach in mid-April. This is his third head-coaching position, having started the program at Pikeville before moving on to Newberry (S.C.). His overall career record is 55-37.

"It's going to be a big rebuilding year for us," Willis said. "I think the key to this football team is going to be the development from the first game to the last game. We're going to have to get better every week."

Clear-cut stars of the team are sophomore QB Chandler Whittlesey and all-conference WR Domonique Jefferson.

"We'll be a multiple-spread offense," Willis said. "We'll base out of the shotgun and be no-huddle, and then we'll change formations if we're able to. Of course, this is Year One of rebuilding this program, so our options may be a little bit limited."

On defense, the Bulldogs will use multiple fronts but will base out of a 4-3.

The goal is to "get better every week," Willis said. "You've got to crawl before you can walk, and we're at the stage where we're just trying to roll over if we were a baby."

Key players: TB Brian Clark; QB Chandler Whittlesey; WR Domonique Jefferson.

Bulldogs' schedule

Date Opponent Time

Aug. 28 at Murray State 8 p.m.

Sept. 13 at Faulkner 2:30 p.m.


Oct. 4 at Reinhardt Noon

Oct. 11 CUMBERLAND 1:30 p.m.


Oct. 25 at Kentucky Christian 1:30 p.m.

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

Nov. 8 at Georgetown 1:30 p.m.

Nov. 15 PIKEVILLE 1:30 p.m.

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