Out Here in Left Field

Published 2:39 pm Friday, September 2, 2011

Thursday night was a good time to be at Chowan University.

First of all, any football game under the lights at James G. Garrison Stadium is fun and the atmosphere was extremely enjoyable. The students were there in force and they were loud and enjoyed themselves.

In addition to that, there were a host of local people who took time out of their schedules to make Chowan University’s home football game for 2011. They weren’t disappointed with what they saw on the field.

Chowan’s home opener was one of the best games the Hawks have played in Garrison Stadium in a long time. The offense threw the ball well, the defense controlled the line of scrimmage and the special teams made a difference in the game.

I was pleased to see the attitude of Tim Place’s fourth team at Chowan. They were excited and expectant when they came out of the locker room and that never let down. They obviously came on the field not only wanting to win, but expecting to.

When a program has struggled as mightily as Chowan has since the team moved from junior college to four-year status, it takes time to build a program. There has to be good recruiting, hard work and serious changes in the mentality of a program that has struggled.

Tim Place came to Chowan knowing full well all of that was true. He had been in the situation before at his previous head coaching stint in Ohio. He was able to make that change there and, I believe, is well on his way to doing it here.

Thursday night’s game was a good indication of the changes that are going on in Murfreesboro. Despite the fact Livingstone has been a team that has struggled since before Chowan entered the CIAA, it was the most dominant the Hawks have been against Livingstone.

Is this the season Chowan turns the corner from being one of the most feared under dogs in the league to one of the top tier members of the conference? I don’t know. I’m not sure there is any way to at this point.

What we do know is that Robert Holland is probably the best receiver in the CIAA and one of the top five at any Division II institution in this country. Cameron Stover was also impressive in the season-opener. He threw the ball well and also showed he can move on his feet if he needs to.

Also, the offensive and defensive lines looked much better Thursday than at any point during the past seven or eight years. That’s always the key to making a difference in a football team.

It’s also obvious Chowan has one of the toughest schedules they have faced in recent years and improvement in the win-loss program is going to have to be earned.

Whatever happens, though, count on the fact that Chowan’s football team is better and they’re better because of the work of Tim Place, Brian Matesic, Mark Hall, Omar Nesbit, Luther Henderson and the rest of the staff.

Chowan’s return to glory on the gridiron is closer than ever. Go Hawks!

Thadd White is Sports Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be reached via email at thadd.white@r-cnews.com or by telephone at 332-7211.