By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
SWAC Football Preview East Division Leads Preseason Honors
EASTERN DIVISION HEADS SWAC PRESEASON FOOTBALL
The Southwestern Athletic Conference Eastern Division appears to be the leader of the Southwestern Athletic Conference two divisions—East and West. Alabama A&M and Mississippi Valley get the nod as the division favorite. Everyone is keeping a close eye on the Jackson State Tigers who will be coached by former Tuskegee Coach Rick Comegy. Coach Pete Richardson’s young Southern Jaguars get the nod as the favorite in the Wild West. Grambling’s Coach Melvin Spears is the defending conference champions and can never be counted out. For the first time since Lyndon Johnson was President of this country, Prairie View is getting some notation with the big boys.
2006 predicted finish according to SWAC coaches and SIDS.
EAST: 1. Alabama A&M 2. Mississippi Valley. 3. Alcorn. 4. Jackson State. 5. Alabama State.
WEST: 1. Southern. 2. Grambling 3. Prairie View 4. Arkansas-PB 5. Texas Southern.
Alabama A&M Bulldogs
2005: 7-2, 9-3. Won the East and lost to Grambling in the championship game.
Coach: Anthony Jones- at School, (32-15, 4 years), overall, (54-28-6, 7 years).
2006: The Bulldogs are the favorites to win the East and meet either Grambling or Southern for the championship game. All-SWAC linebacker Johnny Baldwin leads the defense and quarterback Kelcy Luke and running back Nic Luke are the keys to the offense.
Mississippi Valley Delta Devils
Coach: Willie Totten: at school (16-31, 4 years) all at MVSU.
2005: 5-4, 6-5(third in the East)
2006: This is one of the most-talented Valley teams since the Jerry Rice and Willie Totten years. The Delta Devils offense is lead by SWAC Offensive Player of the Year Aries Nelson and Defensive Player of the Year Tyler Knight. The Delta Devils landed five players on the All-SWAC first team and four on the second team—the most of any team in SWAC. WR Tyrone Timmons gives Aries a quality go-to-guy.
2005: 5-4, 6-5. Was fourth in the division.
Coach: Johnny Thomas-(40-48, eight years, all at Alcorn)
2006: The Braves return the leading rusher—Jeremy McCoy (1130, 5 TD)—and speedy wide receiver Charles Spiller.
Jackson State Tigers
2005: 2-7, 2-5.
Coach: Rick Comegy (first year) ( 108-51, career).
2006: Ricky Comegy comes from Tuskegee where he built a powerhouse. His mere present makes the Tigers a contender. Comegy made national headlines when he signed 55-players. Only 28 of those 55-players are eligible to play this year. RB David Kinnebrew and DB Vincent Dancy is the foundation of Comegy’s Tigers. The Tigers are the darkhorse in the East Division. Old Tiger faithful are smiling again.
Alabama State Hornets
2005: 6-3, 6-5. Second in the division.
Coach: Charles Coe-(27-12, three years, all at Alabama State)
2006: for the first time in division history the Hornets are picked last. Replacing quarterback Tavarius Jackson won’t be easy.
WEST DIVISION PREVIEW
2005: 4-5, 4-5. The second losing season in Pete’s coaching career.
Coach: Pete Richardson- at School (109, 43, 16 years, (151-54-1, overall).
2006: SWAC coaches and SIDS picked a young Jaguar team to win the West, mainly because of Pete Richardson. The Jaguars had only one player- DB Michael Williams—picked to the All-SWAC first team. Joseph Lewis, the second leading passer in SWAC last season was picked to the second team. If the Jags are to live up to the hype they must improve upon last year’s SWAC worst rushing offense.
2005: 9-0, 11-1. The defending SWAC Champions.
Coach: Melvin Spears- all at Grambling (17-6)
2006: SWAC Coaches and SIDS picked Southern, but Grambling is my choice to win the West. The G-Men lost quarterback Bruce Eugene—the 1-AA leading passer—but replacing Eugene is not just your ordinary replacement. Brandon Landers replaced Eugene in 2004 after Eugene sat out the season with an injury. Landers passed for over 2400 yards and 17 touchdowns and was named freshman of the Year in 2004. He has two of the top receivers in the SWAC—Henry Tolbert (74, 1391, 19 TD) and Clyde Edwards (54-1015, 10 TD) returning. Ab Kuuan gives them a quality running game. Big 6-6, 350 pound Andre Bennett will provide Landers enough time to find Tolbert and Edwards. Melvin Matthews (DL), Dimitri Carr (LB) and Greg Fassitt (DB), are quality defenders.
Prairie View Panthers
2005: 3-6, 5-6
Coach: Henry Frazier at school (8-13, 2 years), overall (33-37)
2006: This is the Year of the Panthers. For the first time in year the Panthers are mentioned along with Southern and Grambling in the West. They have the top punter (Eric Hernandez) and kicker (Mario Williams) in the conference. The Panthers always keep two or three sure-wins by scheduling Division 11 schools.
Arkansas-PB Golden Lions
2005: 3-6, 3-8
Coach: Maurice “Mo” Forte- at school (9-11, third year), overall (52-76-1).
2006: The Golden Lions have made strides, but it may not be enough for school that changes coaches as often as they change socks. Coach Maurice Forte will have one of the top running games in the conference, but it is not enough to keep up with West Division powers Grambling and Southern.
Texas Southern Tigers
2005: 1-8, 1-10
Coach: Steve Wilson-at school (1-21, two years), overall (79-89)
2006: This is the final year in Wilson’s contract. A winning season is almost a must for him to return. The pressure starts with the first game against rivalry Prairie View, who Wilson has not beaten.