Hawks projected fifth in CIAA-North

Published 12:38 pm Wednesday, July 27, 2011

ETTRICK, VA. — Michael Jordan used to say about winning championships, “It’s the shoes”.

Thursday at the annual pre-season football Media Day for the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) you could have said, “It’s the hair”.

Or maybe, the ‘lack’ thereof.

The coaches of the four top picks to win the 2011 CIAA Football championship are: (1) from the league’s South Division, and (2) happened to have been sporting bald heads on Media Day.

Members of the CIAA Football Coaches Association have picked defending 2010 champion Shaw University to repeat in 2011. Winston-Salem State was picked second, followed by St. Augustine’s College, and Fayetteville State.

Elizabeth City State edged out Virginia State to win the North Division and play November 12 in Raleigh for the league title.

Meanwhile, Chowan was picked fifth in the division and ninth among the dozen league teams.

The Hawks were among the teams who had to adjust their schedules in the wake of former CIAA member, St. Paul’s College, dropping intercollegiate athletics for the 2011-12 school year.

Replacing the Tigers will be Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference member, Stillman College; and the game will be played in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  Chowan’s annual Homecoming game date thus moves to October 22 in Murfreesboro against Shaw.

Last year the Hawks were 3-7 overall and 3-4 in the CIAA and they were still in the race for the division crown down to the final two weeks of the season. Chowan did finish the season fourth in the league in passing and fifth in the league in sacks.

The good news for forth-year coach Tim Place is that his trio of quarterbacks: Steven Carroll, Cameron Stover and Ryan Simpson all return for the 2011 season, and a maturing defense is a year older and experienced.

“Last year was like a bad sandwich,” said Place, “where we had two real stale pieces of bread around an average piece of meat. Playing three tough road games to open up, then competing – and sometimes not competing – in five games before losing our final two games of the year.

“We were flawed at certain positions,” he added, “but hopefully they’ve been addressed.”

One of those isn’t wide receiver where All-CIAA junior and Newport News native Robert Holland had 65 catches for 804 yards and seven touchdowns and has been voted to the Pre-season All-CIAA team.

Also, after red-shirting in 2010, Kevin Hodrick returns to the Hawks lineup. Hodrick led the CIAA in touchdown catches in 2009 with 10.  All of which has Place upbeat about his offense.

“We feel good about Kevin,” he said. “We’ve got a couple of pretty good running backs; we think we’ve done some things up front to help the cause and we have three quarterbacks we feel pretty good about.”

Naturally, Place refused to name a starting signal-caller for opening day, but likes the options the trio give him.

“If we were to see somebody step up we’d like for it to be Steven (Carroll),” he said, “but we feel pretty good with Cameron Stover and Ryan Simpson.”

On defense Mark McCadden and his six sacks return and he’ll be joined up front by Ethan Reedy and Gatlin Williams and a red-shirt player Place did not name.

In the defensive backfield it’ll be Tony Goodman (the team’s leading return specialist) and Anthony Hooks who tallied five interceptions.

Place was a little more cautious when asked about his offensive linemen (Jabari Coleman-Wilson, Hadji Woods, Nick Watts, Charles Wright, Corey Martin, and Josh DeSilva).

“We feel good about ‘em,” he said, “but we have to stay healthy, we have to work hard, and we have to get better.”

Chowan opens its season with a Thursday night 6 p.m. kickoff at Garrison Stadium against Livingstone College.

NOTES: Former Hertford County High and current Fayetteville State senior safety Andre Lyles was also a pre-season All-CIAA selection after making first-team all conference as a junior.  Lyles, the Broncos’ leading return tackler, led the league in interceptions with six, including two he returned for touchdowns.

CIAA COACHES PRESEASON PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH:  1 – Shaw  2 – Winston-Salem State  3 – St. Augustine’s  4 – Fayetteville State  5 – Elizabeth City State  6 – Virginia State

7 – Bowie State, Md.  8 – Virginia Union  9 – Chowan  10 – Johnson C. Smith  11 – Lincoln  12 – Livingstone