Getting over the….er, hump!
Published 12:36 pm Sunday, August 16, 2015
I’m still chewing on my Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) predictions for the upcoming campaign. I’ll not delay you beyond the next two weeks since the season is nearly on us and it’s time to just throw my thoughts out there, have at it, and, well, just embarrass myself.
Before I go there, I looked at some of the games, and some of the personalities CIAA fans will be encountering this year. Elizabeth City State’s Waverly Tillar is always a favorite of mine because he always has something funny to say. The yucks come so fast and furious it’s sometimes hard to believe he can really be a hard-liner at practice and on game-day, but that’s what his players tell me, and his outstanding record proves it. No one else in the league’s Northern Division makes for good sports-copy, as we say in the business; but then sometime being a good ‘quote-meister’ isn’t all its cranked up to be. Chowan fans will see Tillar and the Vikings at Garrison Stadium a week before Halloween. After the controversy of that late play in 2013, maybe in this year’s home game the Hawks can scare up a win.
Perusing the Chowan football schedule further I noticed they will open at FayettevilleStateUniversity on Sept. 5 and a week later, return that way when they face the Fighting Camels of Campbell University. Not a bad docket, because even though gasoline is cheap, playing two schools back-to-back that are only 30 miles apart is some shrewd scheduling. Especially with road games later in the season in the likes of Delaware (Delaware State), D.C. (BowieState) and Pennsylvania (Lincoln); save that petrol while you can. Just stick it on I-95 and go.
I don’t know how far ahead they scheduled the Camels, but a good match-up between fellow in-state Baptist schools should bring out the fans, not to mention keep the cussin’ on the field down to a minimum. Besides, of the other Baptist schools, Chowan will probably never get on the field against Wake Forest; Wingate, Gardner-Webb, and Mars Hill are maybe nearly an afterthought as far as getting a game; and, well, Meredith is a Division-III women’s school. So this year, bring on the Dromedaries (uhm, that’s another word for Camel!).
You remember Campbell: that school which once basked in small-school football glory, dropped the sport, and then eight years ago brought it back.
Campbell holds a special place for me. Not from my Wilmington days when the Camels faced the UNC-W Seahawks. Not from another one of my favored pundit coaches: former basketball coach Billy Lee, a great quipster. It’s because of their current football coach.
I remember Mike Minter from my days of covering the Carolina Panthers and how he, Kevin Greene, and the late Sam Mills were these undersized little guys who knew how to play the game in the NFL. And they played it hard.
Now that he’s moved on to a new chapter in his football life, Minter has a simple formula for improving one’s self on and off the football field.
“I loved (that challenge) as a player when I first came into the NFL,” Minter said in a pre-season interview. “How can I get better every single day; and I love it now as a coach. I love unlocking greatness because I believe that everybody has it, and when I see it unlocked that’s when I’m excited because that’s the one thing I really love about coaching.”
Minter says he runs on positive energy because motivation is the key. The Pioneer Football Conference, where Campbell plays, has the Camels picked to finish fourth this year behind San Diego, Dayton, and Drake.
“I don’t want any negative energy vampires on my bus,” he continues. “We’ve gone from dead-last, didn’t win a game, to now being talked about as a contender in the (Pioneer) conference. That’s what it’s all about.”
By the way, Hawk fans; get to Buie’s Creek early for the game at the new expanded parking area around Barker-Lane Stadium. Their new tailgating site has the coolest nickname: Camelot.
Gene Motley is a Staff Writer with Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 252-332-7211.