CIAA Football Media Day

Published 12:17 pm Tuesday, July 25, 2017

MURFREESBORO – Will this be the year?

Coming off back-to-back 6-4 seasons, Chowan University knows that to rise to the top in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) football race the Hawks will have to first be able to conquer the other powers in what has become the league’s toughest division.

Chowan posted a 6-4 overall record in 2016 and a 4-3 record against CIAA opponents.  The Hawks started the season with a 14-13 win against Fayetteville State University on the road. The Hawks also earned a 4-2 home stance, only losing to Bowie State University and Campbell University at Garrison Stadium.

The Hawks open the 2017 campaign with a non-conference contest against Fayetteville State in Garrison on September 2 with 6 p.m. kick-off.

“We need to figure out how to beat Bowie State and Virginia State, that’s the reality of it,” said tenth-year head coach Tim Place at CIAA Media Days held in Roanoke, VA last Thursday.  “Virginia Union and Elizabeth City is going to be good and the Northern Division is pretty darn good.  What we talk about on a daily basis is we have to control the controllables, and that is ourselves.  We can’t worry about Bowie State, Virginia Union, Virginia State, Elizabeth City, or Lincoln; we have to worry about us.  We have to have great preparation, play with a great sense of urgency, and we must do things the right way.  Not some of the time but all of the time.”

In the annual pre-season poll by the league’s Football Coaches Association and Sports Information Directors Association earlier last week, the Hawks were picked to finish fourth overall in the Northern Division behind defending Northern champion, Bowie State, Virginia State and Virginia Union.

Overall, Chowan was picked to finish sixth among the league with defending CIAA champ Winston-Salem State and Fayetteville State from the Southern Division being slotted above the Hawks. Added to that, Place has a lot of talent to replace on his roster.

“We lost five quality skill players,” Place added. “We lost a quarterback (Randall Dixon), a running back (Tyree Lee), and three receivers (Ryan Nolan, Tyrone Carter, Kaine Lombard) that were really good for us.  You really don’t replace those guys, they were really good for the program, their success individually allowed us to be successful as a program. We will see when camp opens.”

Place adds that he’s also counting on some of the new talent he’s recruited to be able to step in and help out right away.

“Mark Hall, our offensive coordinator, is not only a great offensive coordinator but he is an outstanding recruiter,” Place noted. “He does a great job in doing background checks on the young men and making sure that they fit with what we are trying to do on and off the field.”

Offensive lineman Donald Boone and defensive lineman Nate Wyche were selected for the Preseason All-CIAA squad. Wyche says the Hawks defense has set some lofty goals this season.

“From a defensive stand point, for the past couple of years we have had the motto, SWARM, Blue SWARM, all 11 hats to the ball,” said Wyche, speaking at Media Day. “Wherever the ball goes, we need all 11 guys to the ball.”

“Our team goal is to get to the CIAA Championship,” Wyche added. “We have to come together as a team and then be able to work together as a team. It is going to take all 22 guys when we step out on the field and even the back-ups and the demo squad; everybody, myself and the 10 other guys.  It is a team game; I’m not the only one out there.”

The Hawks kick off the 2017 campaign with a non-conference contest against Fayetteville State in Garrison Stadium on September 2nd with kick-off at 6pm.

Also attending Media Day, on the offensive side of the ball was redshirt senior tight end Brandon Whitehead, who missed all of last season with an injury. He called the experience humbling, and pledged to be healthy and ready to go when camp opens next month.

“You have to humble yourself,” Whitehead said. “You have to know that God didn’t put you in this position for no reason. Everything happens for a reason.  You have to keep grinding, can’t let that stop you. No one said that anything would be easy.”

“I have been in Murfreesboro all summer trying to get my body right to get ready to play,” Whitehead added. “I feel better than ever.  I feel that the team is working better together and will achieve much, we just have to keep working.”