2012 CIAA Football = High Expectactions, Will WSSU repeat?
by, 08-28-2012 at 06:19 PM (6016 Views)
The sport of football has to have the longest off-season in the history of mankind. I mean seriously, D2 football is done in early December, D1AA or FCS as they call it, is now pushed to January and so is D1 football. We are left Jones'n like a nicotine fiend craving for the next fix until we are pacified with NFL preseason until some kind of official football begins.
Well, here we are, the 2012 CIAA Football season is upon us and expectation are extremely high this year. Last years champ, The Winston Salem State Rams are favorites once again as they return 14 players from a team that went on to the national semi-finals.
These Rams just don't have expectations to win the CIAA, if their hearts, that's a gimme. These Rams have expectations of making to Florence, Alabama to play on the national stage for the D2 Grandaddy of them all, The National Championship.
In years past, the idea of a national championship and the CIAA being mentioned in the same breath would result in hysterical laughs and the person mentioning such a statement would be the butt of the joke and would start off like "Did you hear the one about the CIAA winning the national championship.............." LMBO!!!!!!!!!!
Well folks, times have changed, as last year AS I PREDICTED three teams from the CIAA made the post season and I will predict the same again this year. THREE TEAMS FROM THE CIAA WILL AGAIN MAKE THE POST SEASON
My predicted order of Finish
1. Winston Salem State Rams, Preseason ranked #15
The reigning CIAA Champs have quickly become a juggernaut in the CIAA and in D2football. This year, is no different. The Rams are returning 14 starters from last years teams. Gone is Nic Cooper, the bruising back currently trying to make the 53 man roster for the Green Bat Packers. Cooper was a force on offense and definitely kept the chains moving. But these Rams, don't rebuild, they reload, and this year a speedier and shiftier RB comes into the starting lineup. RB Maurice Lewis is the real deal people, and if you think these Rams will have a diminished ground attack because of the loss of Cooper, then think again. Lewis averages 6.3 yards per carry with limited touches and had 528 yards rushing last season. He's faster, he's quicker, and has a chip on his shoulder and the hunger to carry the rock is evident. Lewis could the difference between a 15-0 or 14-1 season and a 12-2 season. He's a game changer, but he'll share the limelight with incumbent QB Kameron Smith.
Smith has solidified his legacy in Rams country and can add to the final chapter of his career with a trip to Alabama. The former Naval Academy QB had this team on the verge of making it to the national championship but could not convert on 4th and long. The experience alone has a created an insatiable hunger in Smith that in my opinion, will be the determining factor to take these Rams down the road to Alabama. But enough about this Alabama talk, its one game at a time, one quarter at a time, and this team will be tested early with a match-up with UNC Pembroke.
Rams defense will be solid once again and my prediction for this team; 14-1 (the lone loss comes in Alabama, but cheering for a 15-0 season)
2.0 Elizabeth City State Vikings
The ECSU Vikings have a chance to upend the reigning CIAA champs of WSSU. This Vikings squad is stout, and returning to their ground and pound attack with reigning CIAA Offensive Player of the Year, RB Daronte McNeill. McNeill, like Cooper, is NFL talent, and has the potential to be drafted in the late rounds or be picked up as a undrafted free agent if he plays to his potential. Look for McNeill to have another big year, but this teams Achilles heal, which was evident in the playoffs, the Vikings were a one trick pony, and other than McNeill, could not muster much else on offense. This year, the Viking bring more ammo to the table as they have acquired UCONN transfer QB 6-4, 220 Casey Turner.
Turner is the missing link from last years team and could help the Viking upend the Rams, but this teams has the toughest schedule in the CIAA. The Vikings start off on the road at Newberry College, and two back-to-back home games against an always tough Delta State and Albany State. In reality, this team can start off 0-3 and still run the table and be in Durham come November. However, if Turner and McNeill live up to expectations and they start off 2-1 or 3-0, the Vikings will be quickly ranked and on their way to an undefeated showdown with WSSU in Durham. My prediction, the Vikings will finish the regular season 9-1, (only loss to Delta State), lose in the CIAA Championship game to WSSU, making them 9-2, make the playoffs, win the first round game, but lose in the quarter finals. 10-3 season is my prediction for the Vikes.
3. Johnson C. Smith Golden Bulls
The reigning Pioneer Bowl champs surprised everyone in the league last year, except themselves. Coach Steve Aycock did a magnificent job last season by not only making it to the postseason, but winning the Pioneer Bowl against SIAC champs, Miles College. I'm still a bit puzzled as to why Aycock did not get CIAA Coach of the Year last year, but I'll let the fans debate that. Returning is Rookie sensation and Miami, FL native QB Keahn Wallace. This kid is the truth, and his pure athleticism will win you a few games alone. By looking at JCSU's schedule, they have the potential to go 8-2, 7-3, or 6-4, as long as they play up to their potential. My prediction, they go 7-4 and defend their Pioneer Bowl title.
4. Fayetteville State Broncos
Towards the end of last season, the FSU Broncos became one of the hottest teams in the CIAA. Their freshman QB Chauncey Concepcion took over the the starting spot which ignited this Bronco team on a winning streak. Winning 4 of 5 games to finish the season 4-6. This Bronco team is young, VERY young, but hungry, and last years run could carry over into this season. My prediction, 5-5.
5. St. Augustine Falcons
St. Aug Falcon football has been a force to recon with over the past five years. This years team, is no exception. Back under center is QB Teddy Becote and he looks as poised as ever and ready to make a run for the third post season spot for the CIAA. Becote's experience will be the key to how far the Falcons go, but their schedule is brutal. The Falcons open up at home with Wingate and against New Haven, two brutal teams, then on the road at S. Connecticut, followed by Bowie, ECSU Vikings, a break against LC, then WSSU, FSU, JCSU, and Shaw. It's relentless! Sorry St' Aug, but I'm seeing a 5-5 season also.
6. Shaw Bears
Could this be the year the Shaw Bears return to championship form? Or are they in a rebuilding stage as they have a new head coach at the helm? The Shaw Bears last season had one of their worst seasons on record, but this was a proud bunch of scrappy kids with a never say die attitude. Though they finished last season 3-7, they still had a top rated defense and was considered the best 3-7 team in the country. Shaw looks to have a favorable schedule to start off the season, but the jury is still out on new head coach Robert Massey. My prediction, Shaw goes 5-5.
7. Virginia State Trojans
Just two short seasons ago, the VSU Trojans were in the CIAA Championship game in Durham playing the Shaw Bears with a chance to make it to Georgia for the Pioneer Bowl. Fast forward to this season, and the VSU Trojans have the same QB under center, Jared Battle. For Battle, he's battle tested (no pun intended) and has the leadership characteristics to test ECSU in the division, but will they? Are there enough pieces to the puzzle to make a serious run? That will remain to be scene. My prediction, 5-5.
8. Bowie State Bulldogs
Over the past two season, the Bowie State Bulldogs have been topsy turvy. It became mind bending to figure which Bowie State team would show up. This season, I see the Bulldogs more hungry than ever, especially considering they have not lived up to the billing. I can honestly see the Bulldogs going 5-5.
9. Virginia Union Panthers
The Virginia Union Panthers made significant improvements last year as compared to two years ago. They finished the season 5-5 after winning the final game of the season against Fayetteville State. This year, the Panthers look to improve for the second year in a row, and their schedule appears to put in position to improve on their 5-5 record of a year ago. I mean, their entire defense returns this season, so they are surely to improve right? I like this VU squad, but I'm going to challenge them to prove me wrong, my prediction, 5-5 again.
10. Chowan Hawks
Since coming to the CIAA, Chowan has been on a mission to let everyone know they belong. But do they? I think so, but i need the Hawks to let everyone else know. Head Coach Tim Place, (BTW, one of my favorite coaches, he responds to my emails) has a sensational WR in Robert Holland, which could be the next Clyde Gates and sneak into the NFL, but Holland alone cannot win games for them. I think the Hawks will improve this year, my prediction, 4-6.
11. Lincoln Tigers
Even more so than Chowan, Lincoln has been taking some serious lumps since their return to the CIAA. Last year they returned about 18 players and still only managed to win two games. YIKES! The lone bright spot this year is, Florida Native QB Doug Cook. You Lincoln folks, I would like to say more, but my prediction is, they improve to 3-7.
12. Livingston Blue Bears
Lets go into a time machine, make a few phone calls, and see if Wilmont Perry has any eligibility left. That is what its going to take to resurrect the Blue Bears into respectability. The Blue Bears have been the doormat of the CIAA for the past 5-6 years. They finally got a win last year and this is a make or break year for head coach Elvin James. My prediction, 2-8.
Week One Prediction
Thursday August 30
Shaw at Charleston (WV): Shaw 24 Charleston 21
Saturday Sept 1
Assumption at Bowie State: Bowie 17 Assumption 16
Johnson C. Smith at WV State: JCSU 28 WVSU 24
Cheyney at Lincoln: Lincoln 24 Cheyney 10
Wingate at St. Aug: Wingate 35 St. Aug 17
UNC Pembroke at Winston Salem State: WSSU 24 UNCP 17
Virginia State at Norfolk State: NSU 42 VSU 13
Fayetteville State at NCCU: NC Central 28 FSU 24
Chowan at Livingstone: Chowan 24 LC 14
ECSU at Newberry: ECSU 21 Newberry 20
Benedict at Virginia Union: VU 23 Benedict 21
Fans, I want to hear what you think about my weekly predictions, season predictions, and my season outlook compared to the CIAA preseason picks.