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CU football: here we are

“Here, as you so rightly say…we are.”

The above line from one of my favorite television shows indicates how I felt as I walked out of Roebuck Stadium Saturday night: here we are.

First-year Chowan University football coach Tim Place has made it his policy not to whine about where the program was when he inherited it earlier this year. It’s an appropriate policy. Like every other coach, he was offered a job and accepted it. It is now his responsibility to make the best of it and I believe he will.

Despite a 55-3 loss Saturday to Elizabeth City State University in the Hawks’ first-ever game in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, there were some times when Chowan made the best of it.

The Hawks forced a fumble on the opening kickoff, recovered it and scored first. On the first play from scrimmage after recovering the fumble, Offensive Coordinator Mark Hall called a pass play and the ball was thrown into the endzone. It was exactly what I wanted to see.

This team had the guts to try to catch the Vikings while they were down and score on them quickly. It didn’t work, but they made the effort. After a short drive, Corey Cline split the uprights and Chowan led 3-0.

Elizabeth City answered with a scoring drive of their own and took the lead for good. Still, the Hawks didn’t panic. It’s clear Tim Place and his staff have been there before. They took over a bad Urbana University team and turned that program around. They intend to do the same here.

Hall’s offense is refreshing. While abandoning the run for too long at a time for my taste Saturday night, the team moved the football. They stayed within themselves and utilized their talent well. James Fox is the best receiver on the field most nights when he lines up and Hall used him.

Brandon Myrick played well at running back and hit the holes when they were open to him. Likewise, even with three freshmen starting, Chowan’s offensive line is much improved. They still have to improve, but line coach Omar Nesbitt is certainly putting his stamp on those young men and it shows.

Defensively, the Hawks played well save the opening drive and late in the game when they were given out. Defensive Coordinator Brian Matesic, who works alongside Place calling the defense, should be proud of his unit and their effort.

I like seeing Jordan Toombs on the defensive side of the football. I believe he makes the Hawks more aggressive and more businesslike in their approach.

As for special teams, Cline looked better than he has since he came to Chowan. He is likely to be the difference in several games this season if he continues to improve.

There were areas in which the Hawks struggled. Six turnovers and two blocked punts won’t get it done. They have to improve in those areas and do so quickly.

The bottom line is the Hawks are exactly where they are. They’re an improved group who still need more players and more depth. While they are getting better, there is still much to do.

This team will win some football games this year. I believe they will likely win more than the two they notched last season. This team will not, however, compete for a CIAA championship berth. There is still too much to be done for that to happen yet.

When the Hawks come home on September 13, I believe they will be a .500 team. I think they have a legitimate chance of beating St. Paul’s College next week. If they continue to take the season one game at a time and give the effort they did Saturday, a win could come as quickly as Saturday.

I like this football team and I like where they have the potential to be by the end of the year if they keep working hard and keep trying to improve.

Thadd White is the Sports Editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. He can be reached via email at thadd.white@r-cnews.com.