Braves eye opener
MURFREESBORO – Saturday is the day.
At 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon, the Chowan College Braves will begin a new season under a new coach in a new classification.
The Braves travel to Randolph-Macon College Saturday to open the Lorick Atkinson era and begin play as a probationary member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division II.
The Braves turned their attention to Randolph-Macon last week following the final blue-white scrimmage.
&uot;We made a lot of progress,&uot; Atkinson said in Tuesday morning’s weekly press gathering. &uot;The offense scored which we weren’t able to do in the first one. I was still disappointed with some of the drops because that’s simple concentration.&uot;
The Braves have been preparing for the Yellow Jackets based on last year’s season opener for both clubs when Randolph-Macon visited Murfreesboro. The Yellow Jackets won that contest 20-10.
&uot;All we have to go on is last year’s game film,&uot; Atkinson said. &uot;It looks like we had chances to win, but it got away in the fourth quarter.&uot;
The Braves will be a completely new club with both Atkinson in his first year as head coach as well as having a new Offensive Coordinator in David Earp and Defensive Coordinator Richard Lage.
&uot;I’m sure we will be a little different for them,&uot; Atkinson said. &uot;Still, they had nine games after they played here so I’m sure they’re different too.&uot;
The coach said the first game of the season is always difficult because there is no way to know what changes may have been made by your opponent.
The Braves will be led by senior quarterback Taylor Furlough as they head into Saturday’s opener.
&uot;It starts with the quarterback,&uot; Atkinson said. &uot;He will have to have the kids rally around him for us to do well.&uot;
Offensively, the Braves will also be looking to Jack Ross and Josh Floyd as well as offensive lineman Chris Kelly.
Sebastian Harrison and Cody Brant will be the keys on defense.
Another key area for the Braves will be special teams where there will be two true freshman working for Chowan.
In the last week, the Braves have seen significant improvement along the offensive line, according to their coach.
&uot;Coach Gruneisen has done an excellent job of sticking to his guns,&uot; Atkinson insisted. &uot;They are improving and coming together as a unit.&uot;
Atkinson also said he was pleased with the &uot;outstanding play&uot; of the linebackers on the defensive side of the ball.
As the week progresses, the coach said he would be trying to build the excitement.
&uot;I don’t want us to be ready to win on Tuesday, I want us to be ready on Saturday at 1 p.m.,&uot; he said.
Both the offensive and defensive game plans were set as of Tuesday, an important part in preparing according to Atkinson.
&uot;They’re getting excited and I’m getting excited,&uot; he said. &uot;We’re ready. We’ve got a plan.
&uot;We have to be ready to alter than plan because they get paid at Randolph-Macon too,&uot; he added. &uot;We’ve kept it simple. I don’t believe in being a jack-of-all-trades and master of none.
&uot;I feel like we have a plan in place and it’s time to get ready,&uot; he added.
Atkinson also suggested Braves’ fans make the short two-hour trek to Ashland, Virginia for the opener.
&uot;We’d love to have fans come out and support us on opening day,&uot; he said.
Randolph-Macon College is located off Interstate 95 in Ashland Virginia. It is located 100 miles north of the North Carolina border and is a mere 12 miles off Interstate 95. Those wishing to attend the game should take I-95 north to I-295, circling Richmond and then getting back on I-95. Take exit 92B, which is Route 54 West to Ashland. After crossing U.S. 1, turn right onto Henry Street and follow the signs to the football stadium which is located on the left.