Friday, August 8, 2014

Aaliyah Lewis and Alabama State Favorites to Win SWAC Women's Soccer Title in 2014

Aaliyah Lewis (Photo by David Campbell/Alabama State Univesity)
It's not hard to see why the Alabama State women's soccer team is the favorite of Southwestern Athletic Conference experts to win the conference title this year.

The Lady Hornets account for five of the 11 preseason All-SWAC first team, including the preseason Offensive Player of the Year, Aailyah Lewis.

Lewis was last season's Offensive Player of the Year in leading Alabama State to the SWAC's Eastern division title. She led the SWAC in goals, points and shots per game. She was the spur for a squad that topped the conference in every offensive category.   But the Lady Hornets fell one game short, losing to SWAC champ Jackson State, the squad predicted to finish second this season.

"We want to pick up where we left off," Alabama State coach Jodie Smith told the Montgomery Advertiser. "We had a great season last year.  We left one game out there, the match we really wanted and want to win this year.  We are retiring a lot of talented players."

Jackson State returns midfielder Jalana Ellis, defenders Rayana Speight and Kyleigh Lo, along with forwards Eroncia Berry and Kimberlie Hernandez to remain right in the middle of the SWAC race.

The rest of the predicted top five teams in order are Prairie View A&M (which features preseason Defensive Player of the Year Debbie Arguelles); Southern; and Mississippi Valley State.  Right behind the Delta Devils is Howard, a school that will compete in the SWAC for the first time as the MEAC doesn't offer women's soccer.

Here is the entire predicted order of finish for the SWAC along with the All-Conference squad:

Pts (First-Place Votes)
Alabama State
153 (7)
Jackson State
146 (3)
Prairie View A&M
120 (3)
97 (1)
Mississippi Valley State
Texas Southern
Alabama A&M
Arkansas Pine Bluff
Grambling State
Alcorn State
Offensive Player of the Year
Aaliyah LewisAlabama State
Defensive Player of the Year
Debbie ArguellesPrairie View A&M

Aaliyah LewisAlabama State
Estelle EsperanceAlabama A&M
Alexandria CannonAlabama State
Jalana EllisJackson State
Ariela LewisAlabama State
Hailey BeekmanMississippi Valley State
Nykosi SimmonsMississippi Valley State
Rayana SpeightJackson State
Andrea ChaconAlabama A&M
Iita PienimakiAlabama State
Kylee HathawayAlabama State

Eroncia BerryJackson State
Kimberlie HernandezJackson State
Jami BlackstonSouthern
Ana HuetasAlabama A&M
Josee PrimeauMississippi Valley State
Celene BatrezPrairie View A&M
Marlyn CampaTexas Southern
Kyleigh LoJackson State
Debbie ArguellesPrairie View A&M
Shelby CarbinSouthern
Alyssa CobbsArkansas-Pine Bluff

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Bethune-Cookman and South Carolina State Picked to Finish 1-2 in the MEAC

LeBrandon Richardson (photo from Bethune Cookman Athletics site)
It's rather fitting that Bethune-Cookman's football squad has a first team preseason All-MEAC representative on each level of the defense.  They were more than stout as they sported the nation's second ranked defense in 2013 (fellow MEAC member South Carolina State had the nation's best defense, statistically).

Even though they've lost eight starters -- the entire linebacking core and three of four defensive backs -- they are still the sexy pick to win the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title again this year, according to the league's head coaches and sports information directors.

The Wildcats, already ranked 23rd in the nation in the FCS 2014 preseason poll, will rely on a bevy of reserves and transfers to step in where the leading tackler for the past three seasons, the departed Jarkevis Fields, thrived.

"We have a lot of bodies and a lot of talent," linebacker Ralph Williams, a key reserve last year who takes over at middle linebacker, told the Daytona Beach Journal on Aug. 1. "We just have to come out here every day and get better.  We have a lot of new starters, but [defensive coordinator Yogi Jones] always tells us everybody's a starter on the defense if you play."

Williams will have preseason All-MEAC defenders DL LeBrandon Richardson, LB Tavarus Dantzler and DB Marquis Drayton anchoring things.

South Carolina State has six defenders on the preseason All-MEAC team, led by defensive lineman Alex Glover and Andrew Carter.  The two anchored a Bulldog defense that gave up only 90 yards rushing per game in 2013.
Greg McGhee (photo from
North Carolina A&T was also tough defensively, with the nation's top rushing defense.  They are picked to finish third behind South Carolina State in the MEAC.  Next is Howard, a team that will have head coach Gary "Flea" Harrell back after a one-year sabbatical, has the preseason MEAC Offensive Player of the Year in Greg McGhee, last year's MEAC total offense leader who was second in passing and third in rushing.

Here is the MEAC's predicted order of finish:

First Place Votes in Parenthesis)
School                                                                         Points
1.      Bethune-Cookman                                             487
2.      South Carolina State                                          457
3.      North Carolina A&T                                             338
4.      Howard                                                              309                             
5.      Delaware State                                                 229
6.      Norfolk State                                                      225
7.     Hampton                                                              200
8.     North Carolina Central                                        187
9.    Morgan State                                                          148
   ** Florida A&M and Savannah State are not eligible for post season competition therefore is not listed on the above prediction order

Here is the complete All-MEAC team:

Offensive Player of the Year: Greg McGhee, Howard           Defensive Player of the Year: Lynden Trail, Norfolk State

QBGreg McGheeSr.HowardPittsburgh, Pa.
RBTarik CohenSo.N.C. A&TBunn, N.C.
RBAnthony PhilyawSo.HowardLos Angeles, Ca.
WRMilton Williams IIISr.Delaware StateWashington, D.C.
WRDesmond LawrenceSr.N.C. A&TDurham, N.C.
TEKris DrummondSr.Savannah  StateWashington D.C.
CAndrew EdouardSr.Bethune-CookmanPhiladelphia, Pa.
OLDomanic Wilsonr-Sr.S.C. StateLake City, S.C.
OLWillie Robinsonr-Sr.N.C A&TClinton. Md.
OLDarren PinnockSr.Morgan StateMiami, Fla
OL            Devin Flowersr-Sr.S.C. StateCharlotte, N.C.
OL            Toree BoydSo.HowardMiami, Fla.
DLLeBrandon RichardsonJr.Bethune-CookmanMiami, Fla.
DLMiles GroomsJr.HamptonRichmond, Va
DLAlex GloverJr.S.C. StateCharlotte, N.C.
DLAndrew CarterSr.S.C. StateHamlet, N.C.
LBLynden Trailr-Sr.Norfolk StateMiami, Fla.
LBD’Vonte GrantGrad.North Carolina A&TCharlotte, N.C.
LBTavarus DantzlerSr.Bethune-CookmanHomestead, Fla.
DBDarrin Marrowr-Sr.Norfolk StateVirginia Beach, Va.
DBCameron Alstonr-Sr.HowardNorth Augusta, S.C.
DBMike JonesSo.N.C. CentralBaltimore,Md.
DBMarquis DraytonJr.Bethune-CookmanFort Lauderdale, Fla.
PLawrence Forbesr-So.Morgan StateUpper Marlboro, Md.
PKAnthony Prevostr-So.HamptonChesterfield, Va.
RSAdrian Wilkinsr-Jr.N.C. CentralForest City, N.C.
Second Team    
QBQuentin Williamsr-Sr.Bethune-CookmanTampa, Fla.
RBLamont Brown IIIr-So.Morgan StateSuffolk, Va.
RBJustin Taylorr- Jr.S.C. StateAtlanta, Ga.
WRJoseph Cervalor-Sr.Delaware StateVenice
WRThomas Martinr-So.Morgan StateNaples, Fla.
TE*James Lynchr-Jr.Norfolk StateDarby, Pa.
TE*Temarrick Hemingwayr-Jr.S.C. StateLoris, SC
CRonald Cantyr-Sr.N.C. A&TChester, S.C.
OLJohn Smithr-Jr.HowardAtlanta. Ga.
OLJerron SearlesJr.Delaware StateAtlantic City, N.J.
OLKeonte CashSo.Florida A&MMiami, Fla.
OLJustin Mylerr-Sr.Norfolk StateWoodbridge, Va.
OL Chris PressleySr. N.C. CentralUpper Marlboro, Md.

DLRodney GunterSr.Delaware StateLake Hamilton, Fla.
DLDamon Gresham-ChisolmJr.HowardCovington, GA
DLRonnie BarrowSr.Bethune-Cookman 
Demarco Bisbee
Javon Hargrave
Morgan State
S.C. State
Lansing, Mich.
Salisbury, NC
LBJoshua ThorneJr.HamptonOxon Hill, Md. 
LBCody AckerSr.Morgan StateLandover, Md.
LBMarquis SmithSo.Savannah StatePrince Georges County, Md. 
DBKhambrel McGeeSr.HamptonMiami, Fla.
DBDevonte JohnsonSr.Florida A&MTallahassee, Fla.
DBTony McRaeJr.N.C. A&TLaurinburg, N.C.
DB*Patrick Aikenr-So.Florida A&MPembroke Pines, Fla.
DB*Keenan Lambertr-Sr.Norfolk StateNorfolk, Va.
PChristian Faber-Kinneyr-So.HamptonWilliamsburg, Va.
PKChase VarnadoreSr.Florida A&MTallahassee, Fla.
RSTony McRaeJr.N.C. A&TLaurinburg, N.C.
Third Team    
QBDamien FlemingSr.Florida A&MJacksonville, Fla.
RBJorrian Washingtonr-Sr.HamptonLos Angeles, Ca.
RBDae-Hon CheungSr.Delaware StateCoatesville, Pa.
WRDennisRower-Sr.S.C. StateColumbia, S.C.
WRJhomo GordonSr.Bethune-CookmanPalm Bay, Fla.
Nathan Scruggs
Nate Ingram
N.C. Central
Jacksonville, Fla.
Sicklerville, N.J.
CErick Dickersonr-So.S.C. StateGoose Creek, SC
OLMike PhillipsJr.Norfolk StateVirginia Beach, Va.
OLClevonne DavisJr.N.C. Central Miramar, FL
OLAfolabi AyangbayiSo.Savannah StateUnion, NJ
OLRyan TempletonSr.Florida A&MChicago, Ill
DLMichael NealJr.N.C. A&TGreensboro, N.C.
DLDaniel PinnixJr.N.C. A&THigh Point, N.C.
DLDeon KingJr.Norfolk StateReston, Va
DLGeorge RiddickSr.Norfolk StateSuffolk, Va.
LBJustin HughesJr.S.C. StateVirginia Beach, Va.
LBMarcell CokeSr.Norfolk StateOrlando, Fla.
LBJustin DixonJr.Savannah StateDuluth, Ga.
DBRonald  RobinsonSr.Delaware StateJersey City, N.J.
DBJulien DavidSr.HowardCoral Springs, FL
DBRyan Smithr-So.N.C. CentralUpper Marlboro, Md.
Greg Brown
DeShaun Summers
Domnic Frescura
Savannah State
Morgan State
N.C. A&T
Tucker, Ga.
Hampton, ­Va.
South Pasadena, CA
PKCody JonesSo.N.C. A&TGastonia, N.C.

Throwback Thursday --- Top Ten All-Time Winningest HBCU Football Coaches

(in order of total wins)

Grambling State - Eddie Robinson

Central State/Cheney/Florida A&M - Billy Joe

Tennessee State - "Big" John Merritt

Southern - Arnett "Ace" Mumford

Virginia Union/Hampton/FAMU - Joe Taylor

Virginia Union/Norfolk State - Willard Bailey

Florida A&M - Jake Gaither

Tuskegee - Cleveland L. Abbott

North Carolina A&T/Winston-Salem State - Bill Hayes

Morris Brown/Prairie View - W.J. "Billy" Nicks

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Winston-Salem State Picked to Win CIAA Football Title Over Virginia State and Put Cancelled 2013 Championship Game in the Past

Winston-Salem State QB Rudy Johnson (Photo from
The end of the 2013 football season is one the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association wants to leave deep into the past.

What looked to be an epic battle between 9-1 teams, Virginia State and Winston Salem State, didn't even get played.  A day before the game, Winston Salem State star quarterback Rudy Johnson was assaulted in the bathroom during a pre-championship game luncheon by a group of Virginia State players.  One, Lamont Britt, was arrested and pled guilty.  He received a year of probation.

But the conference title game was canceled by CIAA officials because of the incident.

This year, things have been put into place to make sure none of that happens again, said CIAA commissioner Jacqie McWiliams during the CIAA's Media Day.

"Canceling the 2013 championship game was a dark day in the history for us in this conference," she said.  "However, we believe what we learned that day reminded us of what we need to be focused on and what is most important, and that's the welfare and experience of our student-athletes.

"So what happened last year will never happen again," she said.  "We have a no-tolerance policy.  We are moving forward, focusing on developing leadership, sportsmanship and academic success that is in line with our strategic thinking."

Interestingly, a poll of CIAA coaches and sports information directors predicted Winston-Salem State and Virginia State to win the Northern and Southern divisions and meet in the 2014 CIAA championship game, with Winston-Salem being the favorite to win their third title in four seasons.   It's also a team looking to make a deeper run in the Division II playoffs after losing in the second round last year.

"I've been more fearful of our battles inside the conference, and that's a credit to all of you guys in this league," said new head coach Kienus Boulware during the CIAA Media Day, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.  Boulware, the former defensive coordinator, replaces Connell Maynor who took the head job at Hampton.

"I think back to 2011 when we first made that run in the playoffs," Boulware said.  "We've had some major battles within the conference, and that's helped up.  And we had a lot of major battles last season."

Boulware takes over a squad that has six players on the CIAA's preseason All-Conference squad, including Johnson, the CIAA's leading passer in yardage, touchdowns and completion percentage.  But his leading receiver, 2013 CIAA Offensive Rookie of the Year Chase Powell, surprised everyone last week and transferred to Hampton.  He will have leading rusher, Maurice Lewis, to hand off to.  Lewis had 902 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns last season.

For Virginia State, linebacker Brandon Robinson and defensive lineman Ronald Lewis, two 2014 Preseason All-CIAA picks, return to Trojans' second-ranked defense.  They have to replace their two top offensive players in quarterback Justin Thorpe and running back Jordan Anderson. But the Trojans do return 27 players from their two-deep roster.

Here is the CIAA's predicted order of finish:

1.    Winston-Salem State
2.    Fayetteville State
3.    Virginia State
4.    Shaw
5.    Elizabeth City State
6.    Bowie State
7.    Johnson C. Smith
8.    Chowan
9.    Saint Augustine's
10.    Virginia Union
11.    Livingstone
12.    Lincoln
Southern Division
1.    Winston-Salem State
2.    Fayetteville State
3.    Shaw
4.    Johnson C. Smith
5.    Saint Augustine's
6.    Livingstone
Northern Division
1.    Virginia State
2.    Elizabeth City State
3.    Bowie State
4.    Chowan
5.    Virginia Union
6.    Lincoln
Here is the 2014 CIAA Preseason All-Conference Team:

86Khari LeeBSUSRBaltimore, Maryland
71Marcus ReedFSUSRMontgomery, Texas
79Ronnie RansomeVSUJRPetersburg, Virginia
75Jahmil HaleyVSUSOPetersburg, Virginia
72Michael SabbWSSUSRRaleigh, North Carolina
52Justin KeeWSSUSRSuffolk, Virginia
4Akeen JordanLUSRWashington, D.C.
82Chase PowellWSSUSOUpper Marlboro, Maryland
7Rudy JohnsonWSSUSRSan Diego, California
7Marquise GrizzleSUJRCamden, North Carolina
5Keith BrownBSUSRTemple Hills, Maryland
2Antonio HuffECSUJRWashington, D.C.
89Mario Diaz-AvilesBSUSRWashington, D.C.
10Anthony McDanielBSUSRFt. Washington, Maryland
33Jovantey WilliamsJCSUSRStone Mountain, Georgia
43Ronald LewisVSUSRVirginia Beach, Virginia
93Casey DavenportWSSUSRBaltimore, Maryland
33Kenneth WhiteLCSRSalisbury, North Carolina
45Brandon RabinsonVSUSRMechanicsville, Virginia
59Danny BunnWSSUJRSmithfield, North Carolina
18Michael JohnsonFSUSRRaleigh, North Carolina
3Corey DavisECSUSRUnion, New Jersey
1Brion RobinsonLUJRPG County, Maryland
1Everett RoctorWSSUSRFayetteville, North Carolina
2Antonio HuffECSUJRWashington, D.C.
17Matias LambrechtJCSUSOVenice, Florida