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Chowan football making huge strides

If there was a bigger critic of last year’s Chowan College football team, I couldn’t tell you who it was.

The team fielded in 2004 was often embarrassing to themselves, the athletic department and the school. Simply put, when things went poorly, they quit.

The coach staff was out of their depth trying to prepare a college football team for battle and it showed. The players, I believe, became disheartened because of the lack of ability by the coaching staff.

In a meeting with Athletic Director Jim Tribbett last year, I laid out our points of contention. They had little to do with winning and losing.

My main concerns were the football field, the lack of concern shown for the fans and the disgusting smell that always emanated from the field house.

A few weeks later, Tribbett made a hard decision. After just a month or so on the job, he pulled the trigger and made a change at the head football coach position. Not only the head coach, but most of the staff were relieved of their duties.

It wasn’t an easy decision for the athletic director, but it was the right one and his decision is now paying dividends.

Enter Lorick Atkinson and company.

Atkinson has a plan and a vision for Chowan College football. He’s young and energetic and he knows how to win.

The Braves are 1-3 and realistically could have been 3-1 if a few breaks had gone their way. There’s no way you could have said that about last year’s team.

Chowan has fought every game. I’ve seen three of them myself and I have been impressed with a different area of play every game.

Sure, there’s a lot of work to be done before the Braves start putting together the kind of seasons we all want to see. They have to have a couple of Division II recruiting classes and they have to learn how to win.

Other things are going well already, however. First, James G. Garrison Stadium looks the best it has in years. The field house is improved in appearance and smell.

Also, this is one of the best coaching staffs assembled at Chowan in years. Richard Lage has his defense improving every single day and David Earp’s offense is fun to watch.

There is no way you can measure how much Sam Gruneisen has meant to the offensive line.

The players are working hard and improving. They keep giving their all every time they take to the field.

One of the most impressive situations to me continues to be the camaraderie that seems to exist between quarterbacks Taylor Furlough and Kevin Helmlinger. Whichever player is in the game gets a lot of support from the other. They back each other up and they appear to be working together regardless of who is playing.

Both have had their moments when they were obviously the leaders of their team and both have had moments of struggle. Still, I’ve been impressed by both of them.

Wide receiver Josh Floyd and running back Jack Ross have also had moments when they show just how good they can be. They both have tremendous upside potential.

Defensively, I love Shatae McEachin and Ronnie Fields. They both have an eye for the football and love hitting people.

Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that I enjoy every minute Gabe White is on the field. The former Lawrence Academy standout is getting more playing time every week and is doing a pretty good job of making it count.

The Braves are going to get better and I encourage everyone to keep supporting them. Remember, if you see a bandwagon, it’s too late.

Questions? Comments? Snide remarks? All are welcome. You can reach me at thadd.white@r-cnews.com or call me at 332-7211.

Be careful out there and be good sports.