Today: Apr 14, 2024

Football Week 1 Preview

PETE PAGUAGA — Sports Editor   

Southern will open the 2011 football season with a Division 1 FCS opponent at Central Connecticut. Southern leads the all-time series with Central, 36-16.  Central has won the last three meetings in the series, including a 56-34 victory in 2007. The last Southern win was in 1998, 41-14. 

Let’s take a look at the matchup:

Photo courtesy

Coach: Jeff McInerney (6th year)

2010: 8-3 (7-1, co-champion of Northeast Conference)

Outlook: Central has won the past two NEC titles and was co-champion last season. The Blue Devils were picked to win the NEC in 2011. Central enters this season on a 14-game home winning streak, the second-longest active streak of its kind in the nation. Central averaged 30.2 points per game last season.

     The Blue Devils has led the NEC in rushing offense the last five seasons, and in total offense in four of the last five. Senior quarterback Gunnar Jespersen went 145-243 for 1,918 yards ,11 touchdowns and eight interceptions last season. Jespersen also ran for 495 yards and six rushing touchdowns. 

     Central will lose their top three receivers including Josue Paul and Richie Martin. Central also loses running back Everette Benjamin after a season of 1,330 yards and 10 touchdowns.

     On defense, Central will lose linebacker Jeff Marino, who tied for fourth in the conference with 105 tackles. Senior defensive linemen Charles Williams (six sacks) and sophomore defensive back Chris Linares (two interceptions) lead a defense that had five interceptions and 26 sacks for 155 yards last season.

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Coach: Rich Cavanaugh (27th year)

2010: 6-4 overall (6-2 Northeast-10 Conference)

Outlook: Southern returns many veterans that could play into their success this season. After starting off 0-2, Southern went on to win six of its last eight games, including ending last season winning their last three games, recording its 10th consecutive winning season. Southern was selected No. 2 in the Northeast-10 Conference preseason poll, one point out of the top spot, behind University of New Haven.

     Southern averaged 34.1 points per game last season. Senior quarterback Kevin Lynch is coming into his second season for the

Owls In his first full season, Lynch went 160-268 (59.7 percent) for 2,468 yards and 24 touchdowns with eight interceptions. Senior Rashaad Slowley will lead the backfield after being the team leading rusher with 871 yards and 10 touchdowns. The receiving corps is back with senior Andre Privott and junior Willie Epps who led the unit with 970 yards and nine touchdowns.     

     Senior linebacker Sam-uel Johnson leads a defensive unit with some rebuilding. The defense had 11 interceptions and 21 sacks for 126 yards. Johnson led the team with 76 tackles, 40 solos, two interceptions and three sacks. Senior defensive end Dan Lamberton will also return after injury last season, trying to get back a starting role. 

“The defensive line is very athletic, very physical and the secondary is getting better,” Cavanaugh said.

Key Factor 

The Owls will have a tough test on the road and needs to make its case early and pressure Jespersen into turnovers. Lynch will need to lead the offense and get guys involved. Central will need to limit Southern’s receivers and pound the running game to prevent pressure from the defense. 

My player to watch is Southern’s Epps. Both offenses should play a role in this one.

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