By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
WSSU Opening Night Football Game
Winston-Salem, NC – The 2005 Winston-Salem State University Football Rams took to the field on Saturday evening at 6:00 pm inside the friendly confines of Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC as they prepare to play their first game of the football season.
The Rams, who are entering into their final year of membership in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, will look to start the season 1-0 for the first time since the 2001 season. They will have no easy go of it as the Rams will face perennial national Division II powerhouse Catawba College in the first game of what will be a historic and emotional season.as WSSU turns the reigns over to sophomore quarterback Monte Purvis who has only started one game in his college career.
Kickoff is at 6pm at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem. The Rams and Indians have met only two other times in the history of both programs with Catawba winning both. The first meeting was in 1998 as the Rams fell 10-7 to the Indians in Salisbury, NC. The second, and most current, meeting between the two teams occured in 1999 when the Rams fell in defeat 17-14 on a last-second field goal that propelled Catawba to the 2nd win.
This year will also be a test for Sophomore Quarterback Monte Purvis as takes over the reigns despite only starting three games in his college career. The Rams lost quarterback Joshua McGee , who has since moved on to become a member of the Ram coaching staff. Purvis, who appeared in five games for the Rams last season, threw for 102 yards and a touchdown last season while rushing for 167 more. He earned the starting job during the spring 2005 football practice season and looks to keep that starting spot for the season opener.
The Rams currently have two sets of brothers on the team, the most valuable of which are the Bynum Brothers. The brothers, Darrian Bynum(sophomore LB), and Levern Bynum (senior LB), are both possible starters for the upcoming 2005 season. Levern has appeared in 29 games during his Ram career, starting 23 while Darrian appeared in eight games his freshman year in 2004, starting six. Darrain finished 11th on the team in tackles in 2004 with 20 while Levern placed ninth with 23 total takedowns.
The Rams are led once again by head football coach Kermit Blount. Entering his 13th year, the WSSU alumn has an overall record of 71-53-3 overall for a winning percentage of .568. Catawba is led by Chip Hester who is entering into his ninth season with the Indians. He has posted a 24-8 overall record for a winning percentage of .750. Hester has also posted a 2-0 record versus the Rams and Kermit Blount during his eight-year tenure.
The Rams opening game against Catwaba was almost not played at Bowman-Gray Stadium but instead would have been played at Deaton Thompson Stadium. If the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series had used its rain date, the Rams would have been forced to move the game to Deaton Thompson Stadium.
The Rams defense will unveil a new defensive moving from the conventional 4-3 defensive scheme in favor of a more unconventional 3-5-3 defense under the tutelage of new defensive coordinator Mike Ketchum . The 3-5-3 utilizes three defensive linemen, three linebackers, two strong safeties, and three defensive backs (two cover corners and a free safety). The new look will pose matchup problems for opposing teams and will make opposing quarterback nervous due to the 3-5-3 being a look that many QB’s have never seen, nor practiced against. Coach Kermit Blount and Coach Mike Ketchum hope the new scheme will improve their passing defense. The Rams were ranked second to last, or last, in every pass defense statistic in the CIAA. WSSU has tried to remedy the situation by bringing in a new defensive coordinator in Mike Ketchum , and has switched from a 4-3 to a 3-5-3 formation on defense.
The Rams will also unveil new uniforms too. They have brand new Russell road white uniforms but the new uniforms will not be on display until September 3rd, 2005 when they travel to Washington, DC to face MEAC member, and Division I-AA opponent Howard University. WSSU will wear the uniforms the very next weekend as they travel to MEAC member, and Division I-AA South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, SC. The uniforms were designed with a collaborative effort between head coach Kermit Blount and fourth-year equipment manager Jay Robinson.
According to the experts of the CIAA, the Rams were picked to finish the 2005 season third in the CIAA Western Division. WSSU was picked to finish behind 2004 Western Division Champion Fayetteville State University, who was tabbed as the favorite to defend their Western Division title and the Rams were also, surprisingly, predicted to finish behind the Eagles of North Carolina Central University. WSSU looks to prove the “experts” wrong in 2005 by winning the CIAA Western Division and the CIAA Championship. The Rams have not won a CIAA title since winning back-to-back championships during the 1999 and 2000 seasons.
The Rams look to open the 2005 season with a win at home, something that they haven’t done since the 2001 season when the Rams posted a 27-16 win over Carson-Newman College at Bowman-Gray. The Rams were 0-2 last season versus ranked opponents as they lost to Tusculum College and Carson-Newman. Both teams are from the South Atlantic Conference, of which the Indians of Catawba are also a member.
The Indians are, and have been, an NCAA Division II national powerhouse. The 2004 Catawba College football team posted a 7-4 record in 2004, their poorest showing in over five seasons. The 2003 edition of the Indians finished the season ranked 13th in the AFCA polls and again made an NCAA Division II playoff appearance.
Players To Watch (WSSU)…#1 Jed Bines, junior running back; #27 Martin Hicks, senior running back; #4 Monte Purvis , sophomore quarterback; #9 Brandon Hussey , senior wide receiver and kick returner; #5 Chad Oakley , senior, punter.
Players To Watch (Catawba)…#5 Corey Ready, senior, wide receiver; #8 Brad Roach, sophomnore, quarterback; #40 Stuart Adams, senior, middle linebacker; #25 Charles Morman, junior, cornerback.
The Rams look to “RUN” their way to victories again this season. They averaged 246.7 yards per game on the ground last season. However, in home games, the Rams averaged a stunning 298.7 yards per game on the ground.
If there was one glaring weakness in the 2004 Rams, it would be the WSSU secondary.
The opening game of the 2005 season will mark “Hall of Fame Induction Weekend” at WSSU. Winston-Salem State University will enshrine nine new members in the Clarence E. “Big House” Gaines Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday evening. All nine members will be recognized in a halftime ceremony that will take place on Saturday evening. The athletic hall of fame was revived by current Director of Athletics, Dr. Chico Caldwell after a 10-year layoff in which no one was enshrined.