Chowan looking toward expectations

Published 11:59 am Wednesday, July 25, 2012

MURFREESBORO – The Summer Olympics have completed their two-week countdown and now another one begins.

August 9 will be the reporting date for members of the Chowan University football team’s return to campus and the beginning of fall drills.

And this year the excitement is building.

At the recently concluded Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Football Kickoff Press Conference in Petersburg fifth-year Hawks’ Head Coach Tim Place said, “Up until this off-season we’ve always discussed ‘the Process’. This off-season we’ve started emphasizing ‘the Expectation’.

“Those are to our program what we want to do, and what we expect to do,” he added.

Though they finished 3-7 for the second straight season, and 2-5 in league play Chowan’s 2011 campaign was not without superlatives.

They were the third-best scoring team in the CIAA, averaging 27 points per ball game, though they allowed 33 per game; and they were number-five in a 12-team league in total offense.

Chowan was number-three in passing offense at 241.9 yards per game and the Hawks were third in red-zone efficiency.

On special teams they led the league in kick-off return average at 24.6 yards per kick return and they were third in punt return average with 13.5 yards per.

“We feel the process is done, so it’s time to talk expectations,” said Place.  “We want to be in a position to compete every day in and out of the classroom. Not just for the CIAA-North Division title, but daily, weekly and yearly.

“And that starts with being good people,” he added. “Our off-season program has laid the groundwork, so it’s no more wishing. Let’s start doing.”

Place stressed that the core of his 2012 team will be his returning players, which includes 19 seniors as well as four returnees on offense and four returnees on defense.

The offense will be led by three-time All-CIAA senior receiver and Newport News native, Robert Holland.

Holland will be counted on big in 2012. He led the CIAA in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown grabs in 2011 with 69 catches for 943 yards and 13 touchdowns – three more than the school’s single-season record.

Holland already owns the Chowan career receptions and career receiving yards records and broke the record for career receiving touchdowns. He also became the school’s all-time leading scorer and broke the single-season record for points scored.

“He’s matured on the field, he’s matured off the field,” said Place. “He’s come a long way. He’s put the effort in, he’s committed himself and he’s dedicated himself.”

Returning at quarterback will be sophomore Cameron Stover who averaged nearly 250 yards per game of total offense. He rushed for one Chowan touchdown in 2011 and passed for 19 more.

“He’s a key ingredient on our offense and keeping him healthy is critical,” Place said. “He makes plays with his arm, plays with his legs, and if the offensive line comes through we’ll be working in unison toward our common goal.”

As for his offensive line, Place considers them an atypical group of CIAA linemen.

“We don’t necessarily recruit ‘huge’ people,” he said. “We prefer linemen who are better in the skill-set and have athleticism.

“They’ve gotten better and now I think we’re able to compete with the defenses we’ll face in the CIAA this year,” he added.

The Chowan defense is anchored by junior linebacker Jason Ampy who was fourth on the team in tackles with 90 and his four sacks was good enough for 17th in the CIAA.  In the 10 games he started in 2011, he had 37 solo tackles.

Ampy won the team’s weight-room “Warlord” award this past spring; sharing the honor with teammates – lineman Ethan Reedy and running back J.R. Williams.  The Sutherland, Virginia native will be counted on to help anchor a defense that ranked 11th in scoring defense and total defense in 2011.

“With the improvement and maturation of David Fulton and DaKorion DeSamme, we feel good about the defense, personnel-wise,” said Place. “But we’ve got to get better, we need everyone competing and competing every day.”

Also aiding the Hawks’ efforts this season will a couple of new faces hired in February as Associate Head Coaches.

From the Midwest comes Mike Beagle, former head football coach for five seasons at Highland Community College. He will be Associate Head Coach for offense and work with special teams.

His 28 years of coaching experience include stops as head coach at North Dakota State College of Science where his Wildcats twice won the Graphic Edge Bowl and as the offensive coordinator at Southwest Mississippi Community College in Summit, Mississippi.

Tommy Austin is the other new addition and he will work on defense as well as recruiting and football operations.

“(Chowan President) Dr. (Chris) White and (Athletic Director) Mr. (Dennis) Helsel provided us with this opportunity,” said Place. “They (both) bring a lot of new ideas, have an unbelievable amount of knowledge and experience and having them on staff will make our jobs easier and be more effective on and off the field.”

On special-teams, the Hawks have long snapper Austin Tallant. In addition to football, the Arizona junior is one of 117 nominees for the 2012 Allstate American Football Coaches Association “Good Works Team.”

The award is one of college football’s most prestigious off-the-field honors; recognizing a select group of college football players committed to making a difference in their communities.

Tallant has been active in several aspects of community service.  In 2011, he worked to add the Fellowship of Christian Athletes on campus, and his most recent service endeavor was on a Chowan mission trip in Missouri.

This past spring, he was a recipient of the “Dr. M. Christopher White Presidential Athletics Excellence Award,” given annually to two student-athletes that show commitment to community service, contribute to the success of their team, and excel in the classroom.

“On the field he makes few mistakes and he’s a better person off the field because he pays it forward and puts in the time to make others better,” the coach said.

Place says the team’s focus when they assemble two weeks from now will be on their September 1 season-opening date in Salisbury with Livingstone College.  Last season the Hawks opened their year with a 43-7 win over the Blue Bears.

“We’ve got the same goal,” he concluded. “Play hard and play fast for 60 minutes.”