NEW HAVEN, Ct. — Next weekend, the second MEAC-SWAC Challenge will take place in Birmingham, Alabama between Hampton and Grambling State. While this weekend’s Black College football schedule is abbreviated, there still will be plenty of interesting match ups.
This Saturday at 6 pm ET, the defending champs of the SIAC (Albany State) and the CIAA (North Carolina Central) will meet in Durham, North Carolina in the inaugural CIAA-SIAC Challenge. Both schools have been among the best in Division II football over the last few seasons.
The Eagles finished 10-2 in 2005 en route to its first CIAA title crown since 1980. Under head coach Rod Broadway, NCCU has also compiled an 18-4 record since 2004.
The preseason has already been an up and down affair for Broadway and the Eagles. Prior to the start of camp, senior quarterback Adrian Warren decided that he was not going to use his final year of eligibility.
However, the 2004 CIAA Player of The Year had a change of heart and rejoined the team at practice on Monday. Warren is second in NCCU history in touchdown passes, third in completions and fourth in both passing yardage and total offense.
As for the Golden Rams, ranked fifth in BASN’s Preseason Top 10, they are attempting to become the first SIAC school to win four straight league crowns since Hampton Smith turned the trick with ASU from 1994-97.
OTHER BASN TOP 10 TEAMS IN ACTION
(All times are ET)
STILLMAN vs. (6) TUSKEGEE (3 pm-ESPNU)
(Heritage Classic Classic at Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
The battle of Alabama bragging rights will be displayed on national TV as Stillman (6-4, 5-4 SIAC) hopes to add to their surprising fourth place finish in their first season back in the SIAC. SC will make the game very competitive with QB Charles McCullum and WR Marcus Bryant back on offense. Defensively the Tigers returns a solid defense highlighted by Denatay Heard who was third in the SIAC in passes defended last year and was tops in the SIAC with 4 interceptions. Although beginning a new era under head coach Willie Slater, Tuskegee (11-, 8-1 SIAC) returns standout QB Kevin Huff, BASN’s HBCU Preseason Player of the Year. Despite the loss of its top two receivers from last year, the offense will remain one of the top offenses in the SIAC and Division II. The TU defense remains tops in the nation with most of the defensive backs and linebackers returning.
(8) FAYETTEVILLE STATE at WINGATE, 1:30
The Broncos ended last season on an offensive roll averaging a jaw-dropping 44 points per contest. FSU scored 48 points against the top-ranked defense in Division II, St. Augustine’s, in their ninth game of last season. The Broncos return All-CIAA QB Jonathan Autry and his full compliment of receivers. However, FSU must return to its once-dominant defensive ways if it wants to win the Western Division. The Broncos will be challenged by a talented Wingate team which placed 11 players on the All-SAC preseason team. The Bulldogs return 17 starters from last season’s 5-5 team. A win Saturday for the Broncos will give a jolt to their regional rankings hopes.
OTHER GAMES OF NOTE
WINSTON-SALEM STATE at CATAWBA, 7 pm
After a long association with the CIAA, the Rams enter their first year of play in the Division I-AA level. WSSU will be admitted into the MEAC in 2007-08. They’re 0-3 all-time against the Indians, including a 20-10 loss in last year’s season opener. Catawba is looking improve on last year’s 6-5 mark. WSSU finished 6-4 during their final campaign in the CIAA.
CLARK-ATLANTA vs. FORT VALLEY STATE, 7 pm
(Labor Day Classic at Atlanta, Ga.)
Deondri Clark makes his debut as the Wildcats’ head man. During his three years at Shaw, Clark led the Bears to a CIAA title and a win over Tuskegee in the Pioneer Bowl. Saturday marks the first time since 1956 (a 20-12 FVSU win) that Fort Valley and Clark will face each other in a season opener. The last Panther victory against the Wildcats came in 1991 when CAU upset Fort Valley 14-12.
EDWARD WATERS vs. JOHNSON C. SMITH, 6 pm
(HBCU Classic at Greenville, S.C.)
The nation’s longest losing streak (24 games) in Division II football could come to an end for head coach Daryl McNeill and his Golden Bulls. In their last two meetings against CIAA competition, the NAIA Tigers have lost to North Carolina Central and Shaw by a combined score of 94-18. JCSU will feature several newcomers including transfer tailback Marco Kirven, who was one of the nation’s top rushers (122.9 ypg) in junior college ball last season for Southwest Baptist.