• 68°

Atkinson pleased, but not satisfied

MURFREESBORO – It has been a season of growing and learning.

Chowan College football has succeeded in changing attitude, support and desire.

Now comes the part about changing the results.

After his first year at the helm of the Braves’ program, head coach Lorick Atkinson is pleased with many of the things he sees, but insists it’s about winning and losing and the Braves need to do more of the former and less of the latter.

&uot;I’m pleased with their heart,&uot; he said. &uot;I really thought they fought hard. You could tell we cared about winning and losing.

&uot;The opposing coach last week said we were a dangerous team and that’s a compliment,&uot; he added.

The coach said his team would now hit the weight room while he and his coaching staff got back to recruiting.

&uot;Now we have to do what we do – get this bunch in the weight room so they can get bigger and stronger and get the coaching staff on the road to get recruits in here,&uot; he said.

In last week’s season-ending loss, the Braves fell behind 38-7, but rallied to cut the deficit to less than two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

&uot;I love it,&uot; Atkinson said. &uot;It gives us a lot to build on. Obviously, we would have loved to win, but I’m proud that we kept fighting despite having five straight losses.&uot;

While his current players look to get better for next year, Atkinson and his coaching staff are on the road trying to bring new players to Chowan College.

The coach said priority would be given to the offensive and defensive lines, quarterback and kicker.

&uot;Obviously, we need help up front on both the offensive and defensive line,&uot; he said. &uot;We also need a quarterback and a kicker. They are the key areas we’ll be looking at.&uot;

Atkinson said his goal is to bring in 20 players who will contribute next year be they from high school or transfer.

&uot;We have a core of about 20-21 kids here already,&uot; he said. &uot;We need to bring in that number so we can build and have depth next year.&uot;

Looking back at the year, Atkinson said the team’s heart was the thing he was most pleased with. He said his biggest disappointment came because he thought the team would be better defensively.

&uot;We played a lot of young kids and we got hurt on third down conversions,&uot; he said. &uot;We gave up too many big plays.&uot;

Offensively, Atkinson said the team was able to score, but he wasn’t pleased with the inconsistency – especially at the quarterback position.

Also in their first year at Chowan were Defensive Coordinator Richard Lage and Offensive Coordinator David Earp. Both made their debut as coordinators at the college level.

&uot;I think there’s plenty of room for both of them to grow,&uot; Atkinson said. &uot;When you quit working to get better is when you get beat. With only two full-time coaches, we have to look to get them some help.

&uot;For the most part, I was pleased with them this year,&uot; he added. &uot;They played the cards they were dealt.&uot;

Next year’s team likely will be better, but so will the caliber of the opposition.

The Braves open their season on a Thursday night when they travel to Cullowhee for a contest with Division I-AA heavyweight Western Carolina.

Also on the schedule will be Tiffin University, a Division II opponent in Ohio, North Greenville College, Allen University, Southern Virginia University, Methodist College and Newport News Apprentice School.

&uot;You’ll see a lot more Division II teams as we keep moving in the transition,&uot; he said.

Another key for Atkinson as he looks back on his first season has been the support of the community.

&uot;I want to thank the community and the newspaper for being so great this year,&uot; Atkinson said. &uot;I think there has been a new excitement for Chowan College football and we couldn’t have done it without the community.

&uot;I know 2-8 is not what they are looking for, but I think we were at least entertaining to watch,&uot; he added. &uot;We want them to continue coming back as we continue to improve this program.&uot;

The coach said the street went both ways.

&uot;The community has been good to us – players, coaches, the entire program – and I want them to know it goes both ways,&uot; he closed. &uot;Chowan College football will make a positive impact on the community.&uot;