College Football: Catawba, Livingstone open today
By Ronnie Gallagher
Catawba coach Chip Hester knows all eyes are going to be on his new quarterback, Cam Sexton, when the Indians open the 2009 season today against St. Augustine’s.
Game time is 1:30 p.m. at Broughton High School in Raleigh.
Livingstone also gets Lamonte Massie’s third season under way when it plays host to Virginia State tonight at Alumni Stadium.
Game time is 6 p.m.
Sexton, who has one year of eligibility left, transferred to Catawba after a successful season at North Carolina. Hitting Hakeem Nicks for TD pass after TD pass, Sexton helped the Tar Heels to an 8-5 record.
Now, he’s starting his one-year Division II career and local fans can’t wait.
“We’re excited to have the buzz about Catawba College,” Hester said. “It’s good for our school. And it’s good for our football program.”
But Hester is quick to point out, don’t forget the bottom line.
“When it’s all said and done, we have to perform as a team,” he said. “We’ve talked to our guys a ton that the best group of talent does not win. It’s the best team that wins.”
Catawba players will tell you that the best team did not win last year’s opener. St. Augustine’s came to Shuford Stadium and pinned a 14-7 loss on the Indians. Catawba finished 6-4.
“Last year, in a lot of ways, was a disappointing year,” Hester said. “I sure have been looking forward to the opportunity to redeem ourselves. That helps in motivation in camp to make sure we know the team we played in our first game beat our butts.”
Marqus Davis, a 6-foot-2, 240-pound defensive lineman remembers all too well Aug. 30, 2008, which turned into the first season-opening loss for Catawba since 1995.
“I felt disappointed,” Davis said. “They came out there and really wanted it. They took it more serious than we did. This year, I don’t want that to happen. It’s not going to happen.”
One of the reasons is Sexton’s presence.
“Everybody talks about the quarterback and there’s a buzz,” Davis said, adding the defensive line “knows what we have to do.
“Melquan (Fair), Brandon (Sutton) and (Terrence) Porter … the list goes on. We’re rolling,” Davis said. “We’re keeping fresh bodies in there. We challenge ourselves for a huge number of tackles for loss.”
Walter Sanders may have a say in that. Last year, the Falcon back ran for 72 yards and caught three passes against Catawba. The junior will line up behind a new quarterback. Anthony Brown, who ran for a score and threw for another in 2008, is gone. Either redshirt freshman Joaquin Green or redshirt sophomore Kris Brownlee is scheduled to be the signal caller.
“The thing that stands out about them is they have several good running backs and a strong offensive line,” Hester said. “But you really don’t know what to expect in that first game and how many tweaks they’ve put in that offense.”
Catawba’s big tweak is Sexton at quarterback.
“I think the guys he played against (at UNC) were a little bigger and a little faster,” Hester said, “but once the game starts, you just go out and play ball.”
“It’s a long season and we know that,” he said. “We call ourselves, ‘vets’ so we are not looking past them.”