Hawks look for win number one

Published 1:53 pm Saturday, October 3, 2009

MURFREESBORO – The Hawks will be back in the friendly confines of James G. Garrison Stadium for just the second time in 2009 tonight (Saturday).

Chowan returns home after a rough four-game road trip which saw them drop a quartet of close football games. Those came after a loss to Albany State University in the season opener.

While all of those contests have been close ones, the fact remains the Hawks enter their final five games with an 0-5 mark and that’s the focus of second-year skipper Tim Place.

“I guess it feels good to come home,” Place said. “Anytime you’re 0-5, nothing feels great. There is no such thing as a good loss, 0-5 is 0-5.”

Place and his staff have the Hawks competing at a higher level than in the past despite the record. The Hawks have been close in every game, but have yet to taste victory.

“We can’t be concerned about how close we’ve come in the past five weeks,” Place said. “There is no such thing as a good loss. Moral victories are for knuckleheads.”

Place said he was pleased to be able to focus on football without the distractions of preparing for travel and making arrangements to be on the road. He stressed, however, that his team had to be ready for the pre-season favorites in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association – Fayetteville State University.

“Every game is important when you’re at our stage,” Place said. “When you’re rebuilding a program, regardless of whether it’s the first game, sixth game or ninth game, they’re all critical.”

The Broncos enter today’s contest with a 2-3 overall record and a 1-1 mark inside the CIAA after last week’s loss to Virginia State University. Still, they are the pre-season pick to win the league and a team that brings a lot of experience and athleticism to Murfreesboro.

“They have a good running back and wide receivers,” Place said. “They also have a solid offensive line and an athletic quarterback. Defensively, they will bring pressure almost every down and they are a very physical football team.”

Place said his team was familiar with playing some of the best teams around.

“Once again, we’re playing top-line competition,” he said. “We know what it’s like, but we cannot worry about Fayetteville State. We have to focus on our football team and what we need to do.”

Place said his team would focus on protecting senior quarterback C.J. Westler, a pre-season All-CIAA pick who leads the league in passing offense with an average of 286.6 per game.

“We have to control the football and not turn it over,” Place said. “We have to eliminate big plays on defense and we have to be successful on special teams. Mainly, we have to play for 60 minutes.”

While the coach isn’t pleased with Chowan’s overall record, he is pleased with the way the team has competed.

“We’ve competed and put ourselves in position to be successful,” Place said. “We have left it on the field. I believe we have shown up in every game. We’ve played hard.”

This is Place’s second run at rebuilding a team, having served as Defensive Coordinator at Urbana College when that school was going through a rebuilding process. He later became the Head Football Coach there.

Asked about the two institutions, Place said he believes Chowan is further along in the second year than was his former school.

“We’re farther along. The bottom line is no loss is good and when you are 0-5, you are still 0-5,” he said. “We’re still trying to rebuilding this program and as we do that, we have to learn what it takes to win, what it takes to finish.”

The coach said his team had been close several times this year, but simply hadn’t clinched the win.

“We have quite a few games we feel like we should have won,” he said. “We didn’t and that’s the fact of the matter.

“As we progress in this, we have to understand that we have to take advantage of every opportunity,” he added. “We have to finish. We have to get it done.”

Asked if he believes his team is still flying under the radar after nearly pulling off a pair of big upsets, the coach said he didn’t think that mattered.

“That might be the case, I don’t know,” he said. “If we’re flying under the radar or being recognized, we still have to show up and play. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we don’t have a chance.”

The Hawks will have the opportunity to show up today at 6 p.m. as they host Western Division rival Fayetteville State.