Today: May 29, 2024

Southern’s aerial assault looks to lead Owls to success

PAT LONGOBARDI – Sports Reporter    

In 2011, the Southern Connecticut State football team will return many veterans with much experience with the hope of a playoff 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. 

“We have an excellent nucleus returning,” head coach Rich Cavanaugh said. “They came to camp in good shape. We really have veterans everywhere.”

Southern has six road games and four home games. these include three-consecutive road games to start the season. Southern opens the season on Saturday, Sept. 3 at Central Connecticut State at noon. The next week they will be at West Liberty State. 

Conference play opens on Saturday, Sept. 17 at Saint Anselm. The first home game is in week four on Friday, Sept. 23 against Pace. The annual rivalry against University of New Haven is on Friday, Oct. 7 at Jess Dow Field. Southern lost 23-22 at UNH last season. 

Senior quarterback Kevin Lynch (Medfield, Mass.), is coming into his second season as Southern’s starting quarterback. In his first full season, Lynch threw for 2,468 yards and 24 touchdowns with eight interceptions in 10 games, while completing 160 passes out of 268 attempts in 2010. 

Lynch also set four SCSU single-game records. He had 30 completions and 46 attempts against West Liberty—both for records—along with three touchdown passes. He then had a career day in a win against Merrimack. Lynch set a new school record with 443 passing yards and matched a program mark with six touchdown passes. He also threw the longest pass in school history, a 97-yard touchdown reception to Willie Epps. 

After redshirting in 2007 and 2008, Lynch was a back-up in 2009 to starter Chris Roberts, before taking over as full-time starter. He saw limited time but waited for his chance.

“Kevin is an outstanding quarterback,” Cavanaugh said. “He has been extra sharp, confident and is making great decisions with the ball.”

Southern went 6-4 overall, 6-2 in conference after starting off 0-2. The team also recorded its 10th-consecutive winning season. Southern went on to win six of its last eight games, including ending last season on a three-game winning streak. 

UNH is the defending Northeast-10 Conference Champions (8-2 overall, 6-2 in-conference). Southern’s biggest offensive outbursts were a 55-12 win at Pace for the season’s first victory, and a 52-21 win at home against Saint Anselm in their final win.

A big problem was having 64 penalties for 655 yards, averaging 65.5 yards a game. 

“We need to eliminate penalties causing us to lose games,” said Cavanaugh. “ We need to finish the game better.”

Southern averaged 34.1 points per game last season. They totaled 19 rushing touchdowns, 11 interceptions and 21 sacks.

Senior Rashaad Slowley will lead the backfield this season. Slowley was the leading rusher with 10 touchdowns for 885 yards in nine games. Willie Epps was the leading receiver with 970 yards and nine touchdowns in 10 games.

Senior Sam-uel Johnson will lead the defensive unit after 76 tackles, 40 solo, two interceptions and three sacks last season. The defense will lose two captains, cornerback Richard Kirkland and defensive end Daniel Allen, to graduation.

Both Cavanaugh and Lynch gave much credit for last year’s succeses to their dominant defense.

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

“The defense is one of our strengths,” Lynch said. “Hopefully, they prevent teams from scoring and get us on the field.”

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