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« on: November 24, 2019, 09:26:39 PM »
why hasn't the SIAC office came out and refuted these claims by SSU?
« on: November 22, 2019, 01:14:49 PM »
Tigers honored, snubbed by SIAC All-Conference Awards
Carter named Freshman of the Year; Gibbons, Durham left off All-SIAC teams
By Jake Wallace | November 22, 2019 at 12:43 AM EST - Updated November 22 at 12:43 AM
SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - All along the way to a 5-0 conference record, the Savannah State Tigers reminded themselves and anyone in earshot they had been picked to finish last in the SIAC East in the preseason.
Even after an SIAC East championship and the first winning season in 21 years, the Tigers may have just been given even more ammo.
The SIAC released the 2019 All-Conference Honors Thursday afternoon, picked by the league school’s coaches and sports information directors. While there were eight Tigers named to the All-SIAC 1st and 2nd Teams, the story for many SSU fans is who was left off.
Neither junior quarterback D’Vonn Gibbons or sophomore running back D’Angelo Durham were named to those all-conference teams, despite being among the best performers in the league this season.
Durham’s snub is the most egregious. The sophomore from Augusta led the SIAC in rushing yards, rushing TDs, total touchdowns, total points scored, and scoring and finished 2nd in the league in rushing yards per game. Durham was one of only two running backs to break the 1000 rushing yard ceiling in 2019, yet wasn’t one of the four running backs named to the All-Conference Team.
Gibbons was one of the most dynamic players in the SIAC in 2019, finishing 2nd in rushing touchdowns behind Durham. Gibbons also finished sixth in the league with nine passing touchdowns despite only throwing 75 pass attempts. But he was not named to the all-conference teams.
Even after leading the Tigers to their first winning season in 21 seasons, head coach Shawn Quinn wasn’t named the SIAC Coach of the Year. Instead, that honor went to Miles’ Reginald Ruffin.
For a team that remembered every slight, shot, and disrespect they heard from the SIAC a year ago, it’s hard to believe the 2020 Tigers won’t have these honors on their mind.
TIGERS’ ALL-SIAC SELECTIONS
Jontae Baker- Tiger End
Giovanni Lugo- Punter
Einaj Carter- Punt Return
Tajavious Jackson- Offensive Lineman
Cam Brown- Defensive lineman
Walter Bates- Linebacker
Ny’em Bozeman- Defensive Back
Giovanni Lugo- Kicker
« on: November 19, 2019, 08:21:33 PM »
Savannah State has 11 sports — but not football — eligible for SIAC titles in 2019-20
By Savannah Morning News
Posted Nov 18, 2019 at 9:07 PM Updated Nov 18, 2019 at 11:39 PM
The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference has cleared the way for 11 of Savannah State’s 15 sports to compete for conference championships during the 2019-20 school year, according to a recent memo from Commissioner Gregory Moore sent to SSU.
For the 2019-20 season, Savannah State volleyball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s golf, baseball, softball, women’s tennis and men’s and women’s outdoor track and field will be eligible to compete for SIAC titles.
The SIAC does not include women’s golf, and men’s and women’s indoor track and field. SSU fields teams in those sports.
“Please be advised that Savannah State University will be eligible to compete in the SIAC Championship events as they continue the process of transitioning into the NCAA Division II,” Moore said in the Nov. 7 memo. “However, in light of the fact that SSU will not be eligible to participate in the NCAA Division II Championships until they are accorded full membership into Division II, as a consequence, SSU will not be eligible to receive the SIAC’s automatic qualification (“AQ”) to compete in the NCAA post-season championship event.”
SSU’s football team was the only sport specifically not cleared to compete for a conference title.
As the school has been in transition from NCAA Division I after the 2018-19 school year, Savannah State is not eligible to compete for NCAA Division II championships until the regulating body clears SSU and affords full membership.
“SSU football team will not however be eligible to compete in the 2019 SIAC Football Championship,” Moore continued in the memo.
“This decision earlier in the year was rooted in an effort to mitigate the risk to a SIAC member school eligible to participate in the NCAA Division II football post-season play of being disadvantaged by not participating in the SIAC Football Championship the final week of the regular season.”
The Tigers, under first-year head coach Shawn Quinn, claimed the SIAC East Division regular-season title in 2019 with a 5-0 record in the league and a 7-3 mark overall.
A preseason internal vote by the conference, however, led to the decision by the SIAC to declare SSU ineligible for this year’s SIAC Football Championship. West Division champ Miles College (9-2, 5-1) won the league title last week, 21-6 over East representative Albany State. Miles is a 7-seed in this weekend’s opening round of the NCAA DII Football Championship.
SIAC communications officials did not respond to phone calls and text messages last week asking about the policy preventing SSU from representing the East in the 2019 football championship game. Several emails from the Savannah Morning News requesting an interview with Moore received no replies.
“We’re very excited be back home in the SIAC — a conference we have a long history with,” Savannah State Director of Athletics Opio Mashariki said in an SSU press release on Monday, Nov. 18. “We would like to thank the SIAC for allowing us the chance to compete for a conference title in the majority of our sports this year.
“We look forward to a long and successful era of competition within our new conference and division,” Mashariki continued. “We have made major strides internally as an administration to strengthen our core so every Savannah State team has the opportunity to be successful in the classroom and on the field.”
Men’s and women’s cross country was the first of the school’s sports to compete in an SIAC championship this year. Both teams finished third overall.
Five SSU runners were selected to the all-conference team and were honored during the 2019 SIAC championship meet.
SSU volleyball finished its regular season ranked fourth in the East, earning a championship berth.
The SIAC volleyball championship is Monday through Wednesday in Spartanburg, S.C. SSU lost to Spring Hill 3-0 before beating Central State 3-2 on Monday night to advance to the semifinals Tuesday.
Benedict College is in the market for a new head football coach as Mike White has been fired after five seasons on the job.
Benedict finished the 2019 campaign with a 1-9 record.
After a winless first season at Benedict, White led the Tigers to a 5-6 record in 2016. That was followed by a 7-2 record in 2017 and a 6-3 mark in 2018.
The 2017 season was clearly White's best at Benedict. The Tigers and Fort Valley State finished in a first place tie in the SIAC East Division with FSVU earning the bid to the SIAC Championship game based on a head-to-head win over Benedict. That 7-2 record was a .778 winning percentage, the best since Benedict resumed football in 1995 and just the second season with seven or more wins in the modern era.
His final overall record at Benedict will be 19-30.
Before coming to Benedict, White spent 15 seasons as the head coach at Albany State where he won six SIAC Championships and led that program to seven NCAA Division II playoff appearances.
« on: November 16, 2019, 10:15:57 PM »
is coach Smith in the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame yet?
Now I 'ain trying to be starting something, but I thought ineligible means you're not eligible to be considered for anything football related this year. Including Coach of the Year. Correct me if I'm wrong somebody.
I understand what you are saying but if true then why were SSU athletes selected for player of the week honors throughout the season if they are not eligible to earn post season awards.
I thought the MEAC office was a piece of cake but those clowns in the SIAC office are really jacked up
« on: November 09, 2019, 09:06:54 AM »
PREVIEW: Savannah State football caps memorable season at Edward Waters College
By Travis Jaudon
Posted Nov 8, 2019 at 7:24 PM
Savannah State’s football season will come to a close with its finale on Saturday, Nov. 9, at non-conference foe Edward Waters College. With a record of 6-3 (5-0 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference), the Tigers and first-year head coach Shawn Quinn have clinched a winning record for the program for the first time since 1998 when SSU finished 7-4.
The 5-0 mark in the league is the first perfect record inside the SIAC for a Savannah State team since 1989, but SSU won’t have a chance to play for the SIAC title due to conference policy preventing a school from competing in the title game in its first season after moving down from Division I to DII.
SSU played at the DI level as members of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference from the early 2000s through the 2018-19 academic year.
“We were the forgotten team going into Division II,” Quinn said after a 53-24 win over Fort Valley State on Nov. 2 in the conference finale.
“So, I give all the credit to those kids in the (locker) room and the people who have supported us. It’s big. The Eastern Division champs and undefeated. I can’t thank our guys enough.”
Edward Waters College (1-8) is coached by Greg Ruffin and is in the process of entering the SIAC for next season after transitioning up from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) level.
Ruffin was one of three finalists — including Quinn — for the Savannah State head coaching job this offseason after the school parted ways with coach Erik Raeburn in December. Quinn was named interim coach after the Raeburn dismissal, and was named the program’s 26th head coach on March 7.
SSU has an offense which ranks No. 12 among 166 Division II schools in rushing yards per game (258.2) and the unit is paced by the SIAC’s two latest offensive players of the week in running back D’Angelo Durham (Week and quarterback D’Vonn Gibbons (Week 9).
A sophomore from Augusta (Grovetown High School), Durham has 874 rushing yards (No. 22 in NCAA DII) and 10 touchdowns on 166 carries. He needs 126 ground yards at EWC to become just the fifth Tiger ever to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season.
The last SSU player to run for at least 1,000 yards in a season was Troy Hambrick in 1999.
Gibbons, a redshirt junior from Stone Mountain, earned several honors for his career-best performance against FVSU last week. The southpaw signal-caller rushed for 145 yards and two scores while adding 75 yards and four scores on 5 of 8 passing.
He threw touchdown passes of 30, 29, 4 and 14 yards to four different Tigers. Gibbons enters the contest with 601 rushing yards and seven scores on 119 carries this season and has thrown for nine touchdowns and 442 yards through the air.
The EWC Tigers host SSU in Jacksonville for the first time since 1966.
A 3 p.m. kickoff, the game will be the 26th meeting between the two schools. EWC has the all-time advantage, 13-8-4. SSU has won the last two meetings, 45-24 in 2009 and 42-35 in 2012.
EWC is led by sophomore quarterback Roshard Branch and freshman running back De’Shaun Hugee.
Ruffin’s team has averaged 14.8 points and allowed an average of 37 points per game in eight losses this year. EWC knocked off visiting Allen University 45-14 on Oct. 12 for homecoming.
NEED TO KNOW
Who: Savannah State Tigers (6-3, 5-0 SIAC) at Edward Waters College Tigers (1-8)
What: Season finale; Week 10
When: Saturday, Nov. 9; 3 p.m.
Where: Jacksonville, Fla.; First Coast High School
Listen: WHCJ 90.3 FM
Follow: @SavannahStateFB; @SSUAthletics; @TheSIAC
« on: November 02, 2019, 10:52:01 AM »
FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Savannah State hosts Fort Valley State on SSU senior day
By Travis Jaudon
Posted Nov 1, 2019 at 10:09 PM
Head coach Shawn Quinn has led the Savannah State Tigers into unfamiliar territory in his first season at the helm and the school’s first campaign back at the NCAA Division II level in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Savannah State (5-3, 4-0 SIAC) has already guaranteed itself a non-losing record for the first time since finishing 7-4 in 1998, but Quinn says the final two games of the season can be opportunities to continue the program’s renaissance.
“It’s been a good start, but we’ve got a long way to go to be where we want to be as a football program and that process will be tested this week again,” said Quinn on Thursday when previewing the Saturday, Nov. 2, home finale against SIAC foe Fort Valley State.
“Fort Valley is like Albany State, a marquee team in this league. If Savannah State wants to become that, and we do, then we need to back up a good win last week with a better win this week. That is what winners do and we will be winners here.”
For Quinn, Saturday’s 5 p.m. game with FVSU (6-2, 4-0) is about more than breaking a tie atop the 11-team SIAC standings. With two conference games remaining in the regular season, Saturday’s meeting between the only two unbeaten teams in league play is a chance to validate the Tigers to an originally unimpressed league once again.
Savannah State was picked to finish last in the SIAC at July’s preseason SIAC Football Media Day in Atlanta. The preseason predictions meant that every win Quinn and company would earn this season would come against a team picked higher than SSU. In other words, each of the four conference wins to date have been a sort-of-sweet “I told you so” courtesy of the Tigers.
Still, the winning must continue, says the coach.
“I think the winning builds on itself in the same way that losing is highly contagious,” he said. “It’s great to have a lot of excitement around the team coming from alumni, fans and supporters of SSU, but we’ve got to remember that our goals of winning conference championships and being a perennial playoff team are far from being accomplished.”
On senior day at T.A. Wright Stadium for 13 graduating Tigers (six contributing seniors), another win on their home soil would clinch a would-be conference crown for a program that endured a 9-44 record in its previous five seasons at the DI level in the MEAC.
Behind the Golden Rams of Albany State, whom the Tigers trounced 35-19 last week on homecoming at T.A. Wright, Fort Valley State is Savannah State’s most familiar opponent.
Dating back to 1934, Savannah State has met Fort Valley State 52 times on the gridiron. FVSU leads 36-12-4 in the all-time series and, in 2014, was a 42-28 winner in their last meeting.
FVSU (nine voting points) and SSU (eight) each received votes in the Week 9 BOXTOROW HBCU Media Top-10 Poll released this week. The teams tied at No. 10 — Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Virginia State — received 15 voting points each.
Fort Valley has the best offense in the SIAC (37.2 points per game) and will counter SSU’s option-offense attack (243.6 rushing yards per game) with an air raid spread-style averaging 316.6 passing yards per contest.
“They are the antithesis of us, and I like that aspect of this game,” Quinn said before referencing the preseason predictions. “We get another chance to play against a team that will have better players than us if you look at the predictions. We will try and win another one that nobody said we could.”
NEED TO KNOW
Who: Fort Valley State Wildcats (6-2, 4-0 SIAC) at Savannah State Tigers (5-3, 4-0)
What: SIAC game, Week 9
When: Saturday, Nov. 2; 5 p.m.
Where: T.A. Wright Stadium
Listen: WHCJ 90.3 FM
Follow: @JaudonSportsSMN; @SavannahStateFB; @SSUAthletics; @TheSIAC
« on: October 25, 2019, 11:14:17 PM »
FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Savannah State welcomes rival Albany State for homecoming showdown
By Travis Jaudon
Posted at 9:14 PM
Anticipation for a college football homecoming weekend is usually centered around the events happening around campus before and after the actual football game. Even more rare in the last decade has been a Savannah State homecoming game featuring the Tigers as a team with a winning record.
On Saturday, Oct. 26, at Savannah State’s T.A. Wright Stadium, a 3 p.m. homecoming kickoff will give an expected crowd of over 4,000 fans an opportunity to see something rare.
The Tigers (4-3, 3-0 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) will have their chance to make a loud league-wide statement when they host rival, and SIAC powerhouse Albany State (5-2, 4-0). It will be the first meeting between the two schools since 2011, but before SSU’s Division I stint from the early 2000s through the 2018 academic year, SSU and ASU played annually.
Beginning with the first meeting in 1932, Savannah State has played the Golden Rams of ASU 61 times — more than any other opponent in the Tigers’ football history. ASU won the 2011 game 37-34 and holds a series advantage of 43-16-2.
“We’re very similar. They run the football, we run the football. They play really good defense and we’d like to play really good defense,” Savannah State coach Shawn Quinn said this week.
“I told our team this week, ‘Hey, we’ve been waiting for our opportunity.’ It’s really been over 20 years since (SSU) has had a meaningful homecoming game where it wasn’t as much about the festivities as it was the game. We’re playing the best team in the league and the team that everybody has picked to win it.”
Quinn also said school officials have told him, based on the number of tickets sold ahead of time, the 2019 homecoming game is the biggest projected attendance number SSU has had in 20 years.
ASU has not lost a SIAC game since Oct. 28, 2017. The Golden Rams, who won the SIAC East Division in 2018, were picked to win the crown again this year at the conference’s preseason media day. SSU was picked to finish last.
The Golden Rams are atop the East entering Saturday, a half-game ahead of Quinn’s upstart Tigers. Following Saturday, SSU will host SIAC foe Fort Valley State (Nov. 2) before finishing the season at fellow conference mate Edward Waters (Jacksonville, Nov. 9).
How they compare
Albany State is ranked first in the SIAC and 16th among all Division II schools in total defense (273.7 yards allowed per game). Since losing the season’s first two games to top-ranked Valdosta State and Mississipii College, ASU has rattled off five straight victories while holding opponents to just 9.6 points during the streak.
ASU’s McKinley Habersham, a senior running back from Savannah and Memorial Day, ranks fifth in the SIAC in rushing yards per game (66.3) and tied for third with five rushing scores. Savannah State’s sophomore running back D’Angelo Durham ranks third in rushing yards per game (82.3) and also has five rushing touchdowns.
The Golden Rams pace the SIAC in scoring defense (15.6 points allowed per game) and third in both rushing offense (218.1 yards) and rushing defense (93.9).
Savannah State ranks second in rushing offense (239.6) and rush defense (88.3).
NEED TO KNOW
Who: Albany State Golden Rams (5-2, 3-0 SIAC) at Savannah State Tigers (4-3, 3-0 SIAC)
What: SIAC game, Week 8 (Homecoming)
When: Saturday, Oct. 26; 3 p.m.
Where: T.A. Wright Stadium
Listen: WHCJ 90.3 FM
Follow: @DennisKnightSMN; @SavannahStateFB; @SSUAthletics; @TheSIAC
« on: October 23, 2019, 11:48:00 PM »
Coachh Gabe: Savannah State will be like playing your brother
By Joe Whitfield email@example.com Oct 23, 2019 Updated 3 hrs ago
The list of Golden Rams who are injured grew by two after the game this past Saturday in the mud bowl against Benedict, but the season moves on and Albany State will be looking for more guys to step up as the team takes on an old rival.
“That is the story of our season,” said head coach Gabe Giardina. “We can’t make it through a game without injuries. I’ve never seen anything like it. We definitely have to have that ‘next man up’ philosophy right now. That is why recruit the way we do for depth. It will give more guys a chance to get on the field.”
The Golden Rams (5-2) are headed to Savannah to renew a long-time rivalry with the Savannah State Tigers (4-3) who have returned to the SIAC and are transitioning from Division I back down to Division II. Both teams are 3-0 in the SIAC. The Tigers are not eligible for the SIAC championship or the playoffs as they transition. However, the Golden Rams intend to maintain their unbeaten record in the SC. Giardina believes this game will challenge his Golden Rams.
“This should be a very close, competitive game,” Giardina said. “It’s kind of like playing your brother, the teams are very similar. They like to run the ball and stop the run. We like to run the ball and stop the run.”
The Tigers are led on offense by quarterback D’Vonn Gibbons, a junior from Stone Mountain who has racked up 449 yards on the ground. The Tigers also have sophomore running back D’Angelo Durham who has 576 yards.
The Rams counter on the ground with Savannah native Mckinley Habersham who leads the team with 398 yards and teammate Tracy Scott who has rolled up 374 yards.
“Gibbons is a real good runner and has a very lively arm as well,” the coach said.
The Tigers also have a strong defense that features a number of young players who are already making a difference for Savannah State.
“They have the best defensive line that we have faced so far this year,” Giardina added. “They are young, but they are good. We will need to have our ‘A’ game this week to win.”
The Golden Rams are currently the top-rated defense in the SIAC in scoring and total defense. When it comes to rushing defense, Savannah State is slightly ahead of the Rams. The Tigers are allowing an average of 88 yards per game on the ground. In contrast, the Golden Rams are allowing 93.9 yards per game. On offense the Tigers average 239.6 yards on the ground while the Rams average 219.1. The Rams have an edge in passing. As a defense the Rams are allowing 147.3 yards per game while Savannah is giving up 237.7 yards a game. On offense the Rams are ninth in the conference with 82 yards per game while the Tigers are last in the conference with 55 yards of passing a game.
The Tiger roster also features several Albany players, mainly from Westover High School. Those players include running back Jonathan Mock, defensive lineman Chris Jenkins, linebacker Jordan Walton, defensive end Casey Wilson, defensive lineman Jonathan Glover, and Worth County grad Bryan Manuel-Mots.
Kick off in Savannah is set for 3 p.m. at Theodore A. Wright Stadium. If you are not going to the game, tune in to Praise FM 105.5 to follow the Rams.
Yeah...extremely hard to be 1-3 overall when you are 2-0 in conference.
it must be that Miles math
« on: September 06, 2019, 08:53:45 PM »
Savannah State athlete from north Georgia dies while evacuating ahead of Hurricane Dorian
Karissa Tatum was heading home to north Georgia when her car hydroplaned on Interstate 16 and struck a tree.
Author: Michael King
Published: 5:35 PM EDT September 6, 2019
Updated: 8:45 PM EDT September 6, 2019
SAVANNAH, Ga. — Family and friends of a 21-year-old Savannah State University volleyball player from Walker County are in mourning after she was killed in a wreck while evacuating ahead of Hurricane Dorian last weekend.
Karissa Tatum was a premier athlete at Lafayette High School and after she graduated, she received the opportunity to join Savannah State's team.
According to Savannah station WSAV, Tatum and some friends were driving home to Lafayette on Sunday ahead of the pending hurricane when Tatum's car hydroplaned on I-16 and struck a tree.
She later died at Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah.
"She was like a best friend, she was a great person," said roommate and teammate De'antonette Rodriguez. "She would give anything to anybody. She would do anything to make you smile."
Teachers and classmates at Savannah State plan to honor her memory when they return to class next week.
"Wonderful athlete, wonderful person, excellent smile -- she had the heart, the love for everyone," said Savannah State history professor Dr. Jamal Toure'.
Toure' teaches African American History at Savannah State University and was one of Tatum's instructors last fall.
"She touched all of us and that's what we want to honor her," Toure' said. "She had much love for her volleyball teammates and talked about and bragged about them and we love that about her."
Tatum's former teammates at Lafayette High School posted a tribute to the rising athlete following their game this week.
Friends said she was much more than just an athlete -- she was a friend, a shoulder to cry on, and someone who always made them smile.
"I don't think it's real yet, but I know it's real. It's just like it's a bad dream," said Rodriguez. "Everything I do from this day forward, it will be contributed to her."
AUGUSTA, Ga. – “God made this happen to me, so that he can see how I’m built, how my mindset is, and how strong I am,” says Kyle Frazier, a cancer survivor and Savannah State University football commit.
“If they would’ve took football and a cancer diagnosis it would have broke him,” says Kenya James, Kyle’s mother.
It was April 24th when Kyle Frazier found out he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The first thought that ran through his mind is if he would still be able to play football.
Fast forward to 4 months later on August 23rd family, friends, and Augusta Oncology doctors were able to celebrate Frazier ringing his cancer free bell.
“I just had a big relief. It was off my chest, because I was just ready to get it rock and rolling and be done with chemo. That was real hard. Like chemo was really hard,” says Kyle Frazier.
Throughout the chemo treatment Frazier tells us his little sister, Kianna, who was born with a rare disease, motivated him to fight and keep smiling.
“After she gets her treatment, I see her run and jump through anything. So, she really kept me strong through all of this. I was like if she can go through it I guess I have to be strong, too,” says Frazier.
Through his mother’s eyes, it was tough to witness.
“As a mom you want to fix things, and this is something that I couldn’t fix.This is something that Kyle had to endure,” says his mother.
But his mother says she had to remain strong and be a cheerleader.
Committed to play for Savannah State’s football team, Frazier fulfilled his promise to himself that he would not let cancer take away the game he loves.
“I wasn’t ready to let it up. I was going to be heartbroken if I couldn’t play. That’s my everything ever since I was little,” says Frazier.
Frazier says if he could describe himself in three words from this adversity, it would be…
“Optimistic, strong, and lion-hearted,” says Frazier
Kyle Frazier will start his freshman year and join his teammates at Savannah State University this upcoming January. Congratulations Kyle for tackling cancer!
Edward Waters hopes experience pays off
By Clayton Freeman
Posted Aug 17, 2019 at 12:45 PM
A more experienced Edward Waters team enters the 2019 college football season under second-year head coach Greg Ruffin.
Sitting in his converted football field house, a punt’s distance from the field Edward Waters College aspires to someday call a permanent home, head football coach Greg Ruffin doesn’t need long to highlight his team’s most important change from last fall.
“We had freshmen all over the place,” Ruffin said. “They’re a year older. That’s the biggest thing you can say.”
A year older. Maybe a year better.
That’s the hope for the Tigers and Ruffin, entering his second year in charge of the Northwest Jacksonville school, the second year of a rebuild for a program in transition.
In all, EWC included 54 freshmen on its roster last season. Most of them are back in orange, purple and white.
That experience, Ruffin hopes, will continue to boost a team that improved dramatically last year. A 1-10 team in 2017 — winless entirely except for a homecoming success against the University of God’s Chosen — turned into a respectable squad in 2018.
Against their schedule in 2019, “us beating us” is the last thing the Tigers can afford. When EWC meets Division I opponents Southern and Prairie View, the margin for error shrinks to near zero.
“You come out of those money games and you’re really trying to see how much fight you’ve got in you,” Ruffin said. “You never know what happens. You catch them the right season when they’re down and you’re on, you can come out of there and win one.”
The opportunity is particularly sweet against Southern, a traditional power that finished as Southwestern Athletic Conference runner-up in 2018. The Baton Rouge school will be coming off games against McNeese State and Football Bowl Subdivision program Memphis to enter the Sept. 14 matchup.
“They’re going to be gunning for one,” Ruffin said, “but we won’t flinch. We’re going to put our uniforms on and we’re going to go out and represent Duval.”
Along with the Division I foes, EWC has also scheduled eight teams from NCAA Division II as the college continues taking steps toward a potential eventual move from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics into the NCAA.
The team is set to play its 2019 season at First Coast High School on the Northside. The college is still planning for the development of a new field to the north of its Adams-Jenkins Sports & Music Complex.
Quarterback shapes up as a contest of Roshard Branch, Jayshawn Francis and Lee High School graduate Derrick Jones, who took the majority of the snaps last year. Wideout David Beeks returns after catching 26 passes for 322 yards last year, and Ruffin sees a new weapon in Matthew Wilkerson, a 6-6, 260-pound athlete from ASA College who’s expected to play both tight end and defensive end for the Tigers.
“We’re not starting at zero right now,” Ruffin said. “We’re connecting the dots, and we’re moving on to the next dot.”
Coach: Greg Ruffin (4-7 at school, 11-19 overall).
2018 record: 4-7 overall, 2-4 in Mid-South Conference.
Top returnees: WR David Beeks, QB Derrick Jones, DB Christian Hayes, CB Donte LeCorn, LB Mitch Nguyen, DB Jalen Thomas
Top losses: OL Fedner Petit-Homme, OL Justin Slaughter, DB Kennard Mahone, DB Alfredrick Tyson
Schedule: With two Division I foes, EWC is taking on some of its stiffest opposition since resuming its football program. Instead of the usual opposition from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, Edward Waters faces 10 schools from NCAA institutions — the Oct. 12 homecoming against Allen is the lone exception — and two opponents, Southern and Prairie View A&M, from the Football Championship Subdivision. The Tigers must make the most of their games in October (Oct. 5 at Central State, Oct. 12 against Allen, Oct. 19 against Miles, Oct. 26 at Kentucky State and Oct. 31 against Tuskegee), where all of their foes were at or below .500 last year.
Outlook: Improving last year’s 4-7 record against this schedule will be no easy feat, but after lining up with more than 50 freshmen in 2018, Ruffin is optimistic that experience will make a difference. Defense returns much of its strength, particularly in the secondary, where Hayes and Thomas were key playmakers last season. But the Tigers must improve their efficiency in the passing game, where they completed only 45.2% of their attempts last season.
« on: August 09, 2019, 08:16:07 PM »
Savannah State opens fall football camp with grueling first practice
By Travis Jaudon
Posted at 5:17 PM Updated at 7:36 PM
Break something down to its very core to find out what it’s made of. On Friday, Aug. 9, at T.A. Wright Stadium, plenty of Savannah State football players found out what they were made of.
Savannah State opened its fall camp ahead of the 2019 season, the Tigers’ first in NCAA Division II within the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference after competing as a DI FCS program. SSU, which was in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, was a member of the SIAC from 1969-98.
The practice was designed to rev up the squad with plenty of new and young faces, who were quickly made familiar with the ways of new head coach Shawn Quinn.
“It’s good to get out here today; it’s been a long process to get to this point,” said Quinn, who was named the full-time coach on March 7 after serving on an interim basis in the early off-season. “You know, as a head coach, you enjoy the on-field stuff. So I’m excited to finally get to some football. We’ve got a lot of new players, too, so I’m excited to see what they do.”
Savannah State opens football camp on Friday, Aug. 9, 2019
Friday’s football was not for the weak, as just over 100 players were pushed close to their limits physically in an effort to separate the men from the boys. At one point during the two-hour practice, the heat index registered at 101 degrees.
Quinn says its part of becoming a team, his team.
“There’s a whole lotta’ gelling that has to go on,” he said before using an analogy, one of his signatures with the media. “It’s like the Rolling Stones. You hit the high note and I’ll hit the low note. Somebody plays the bass and somebody is the drummer.
“It’s all in concert, and football is a sport where it takes a whole lot of people to win. It takes a community.”
— Projected starting quarterback D’Vonn Gibbons sat out the practice due to some minor clerical issues with his school paperwork, Quinn said after the session. “Just got an off-field thing, a clerical thing that they are waiting on,” he said before confirming Gibbons as the No. 1 signal caller on the depth chart heading into camp. “He should be good to go by (Friday) afternoon. I expect him back at practice tomorrow (Saturday), and he had earned that (starting job) right in the spring.”
— Without Gibbons taking snaps, Quinn and co-offensive coordinator Russell DeMasi turned to several new faces at QB for the opening practice. Most notably, a redshirt freshman transfer from the University of Georgia, Mason Wood, looked seasoned in the offensive system even on his first day taking reps with the first team. An Alexander High School (Douglasville, Ga.) product, Wood was a preferred walk-on at UGA in the class of 2017 and redshirted last season in Athens. He’s considered a dual-threat and Quinn confirmed his eligibility.
″(Wood) did a good job today, so we’re excited about him and what he’ll bring to the table,” Quinn aid. “He’s on the roster, immediately eligible. Mason is a great kid.”
Others at quarterback Friday included highly touted true freshman J.T. Hartage and an Islands High School product, true freshman Cole Donahue.
— Donahue was one of several locals to take the field at T.A. Wright for the first time Friday. Do-it-all running back Jordan Grant (Savannah Christian), Jaylon Thompson (linebacker, Bluffton High, S.C.), Namon Pointer (DB, Johnson), Jaylien Duncan (RB, Benedictine) and Julian Roberts (DE, Memorial Day) were seen getting reps, and Quinn said he liked what he saw from them.
“We have a lot of those local guys playing for us, and a lot of them have some length and can really run.”
Quinn was asked what role he envisions for Grant, a standout quarterback and running back at SCPS in his four years there.
“Without giving too much away to our opponents,” he began, “he’s going to do a lot. It’s a little like Tim Tebow, let’s put it that way. But he is a really good football player for us.”