By ADD SEYMOUR JR.
Lincoln (Pa.) and Cheyney can settle one argument on Thursday.
The two HBCUs have always had a running debate about which one is the oldest HBCU (Cheney has been in existance the longest, though Lincoln granted baccalaurate degrees during the years Cheney was a secondary school.). That fuss will continue.
But on the football field, the two Division II institutions will tussle in the Battle of the Firsts in Philadelphia at Lincoln University Stadium.
It won't be a battle of the two most successful football programs. Both squads accounted for a total of one win last year and that was Lincoln's 33-28 victory over Cheney in last year's game.
Lincoln statistically had the CIAA's worst offense and defense last season while Cheney has been picked to again finish last in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.
"I didnt expect anything else," said Cheyney interim head coach Anthony Johnson of the prediction. "We need to prove ourselves and hopefully this season we will do just that."
Johnson, a former star Cheney receiver/rusher, had been the team's offensive coordinator since 2010. After Ken Lockard resigned in May. Johnson was appointed interim head coach.
"My primary objective would be to revive the Cheyney University football program by changing the culture of the student-athletes," he said. "I envision instilling an unparalleled work ethic, strict discipline and mature self-confidence in the student-athletes, thereby developing winners who want to contribute and help the football program grow to be a championship caliber team."
At Lincoln, the football program is undergoing a renaissance as it was revived in 2008. Despite some lean years, second-year head coach Ramon Flanigan believes his program is on its way up, even after a 1-9 season. Having a four-year starter at quarterback in Doug Cook helps.
"Everything looks good so far," Flanigan told KYW Radio. "We have a four-year starter at quarterback, a four-year starter at center. And we have some guys who have played defensively for us who have a lot of games under their belts. There's no substitute for experience and that's one of the things that we're going to lean heavily on this year.... they're battled tested."
In other Thursday night HBCU football games:
- Livingston vs. Millersville (The other CIAA school to open the 2014 conference season, Livingstone is again predicted to bring up the rear in the CIAA South. But QB Drew Powell leads a solid passing game while LB Kenneth White leads an improving defense.)
- Texas College vs. Texas Southern (Texas Southern should have a much easier time of it tonight as Texas College is a tiny NAIA school that won only one game last season.)
- Paine vs. Shorter (In the SIAC, Paine College kicks off a football season for the first time since the program was shuttered in 1962. They played last year as a club team. Shorter, celebrating their 10th year of football, returns talented quarterback Eric Dodson.)
- Kentucky State vs. Kentucky Wesleyan (Kentucky State finished in the middle of the SIAC pack last season, but they are a talented bunch of Thorobreds. The offense has eight retuning starters including the conference's only 1,000-yard rusher in 2013, Jacquise Lockett.)