Andy Davis

GSC Week 7: All Eyes on Florida

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(Photo Courtesy Live Science)

As Hurricane Michael approached and slammed into the panhandle of Florida, it seemed the eyes of America were either watching news segments from this area in their local coverage with updates on the storm or going full time to the Weather Channel team of sensationalists.

When these things start to happen, I tell my mom to turn off the Cantore Channel! We laugh but even Santa Rosa County, Florida decided to publicize their own feelings on the matter, in jest, as they issued a Trespass Warning to Jim Cantore earlier this week.

As I wish the best for all those affected by the storm, it’s really events ‘outside the cone’ to the east and west in the state that has our focus here in the Gulf South Conference. The top four teams at this point in league standings will face off head-to-head as West Georgia visits Pensacola to play West Florida in a Top 5 battle while highly-ranked Valdosta State travels down to Melbourne to take on Florida Tech, who is receiving votes again this week.

The GSC has three teams in the Top 10 of both polls and the winner of these matchups will have a chance to take a big step forward toward their goals of a conference title and making the playoffs. We also have two other conference matchups this weekend and another non-conference game with North Alabama.

Hawks fly to North Greenville

Not literally, but Shorter will travel to face the Crusaders this week. Both are coming off losses and it’s truly a key game for both. NGU is needing to right the ship immediately after a pretty significant defeat in Carrollton while it’s been a month since Shorter hasn’t been facing off against a ranked team. Each squad needs the win.

The Hawks were on the receiving end of West Alabama’s frustration last week and the result was disappointing. However, there was good effort and improvment as there has been all season. Tyler Pullum has passed for 889 yards and six touchdowns. He has three receiving targets with over 100 yards each as Coey Watson leads them with 181 yards and a score. At the helm of the SU defense is Nehemiah Reddish with 51 total tackles.

North Greenville was doing well and then ran into a buzz saw last week. Lucas Catalfomo leads their receiving corps with 334 yards and three touchdowns being the favorite target of Will Hunter. He has passed for 945 yards and eight scores so far this season. Their defensive unit is led by Dominique Hunt who has tallied 25.5 total tackles, 3.5 TFL, and 1.5 sacks while four different Crusaders have interceptions.

I’m really happy to see the Hawks improving but I think this one will go to the home team.

My Pick: Crusaders by 20

A battle of the Old Guard

DSU will venture over to Livingston in the 65th meeting between these two Gulf South Conference founding members. As just mentioned, both of these teams need a win. The Statesmen are trying to start identifying silver linings and a victory at UWA could start a positive look to the offseason, while West Alabama is still in the thick of this season. As down as it might feel in the past few weeks, all of the Tigers’ goals are still attainable.

Delta State, like the game prior, had a good first half and remained competitive. But, the second half derailed any hopes for a win. Patrick Shegog has passed for 947 yards and four scores while spreading the wealth to multiple receivers including Tyler Harrell (20 rec, 284 yds, 1 TD). Kelon Wilson is their top back with 349 yards on the ground and three touchdowns. The Statesmen defensive standout is Ovenson Cledanord with 46 total tackles, 3.4 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks.

The Tigers came alive last week and a win this week will put them right back in the hunt for the conference title and playoffs. Harry Satterwhite was back on the field and looking good. He has tallied 1,262 yards this season with 12 touchdown passes and one of his favorite targets is Bayley Blanchard. He has 27 receptions for 318 yards and four scores. Defensively is where the Tigers have been focusing more to rehabilitate this season. Tavarius Hutchinson leads that unit with 44 total tackles and 2.0 TFL while Nicarius Peterson has three interceptions.

If DSU can find a way to pull these young guys together and play two full halves of football, this will be a good game. If not, Tigers run away in the second half.

My Pick: Tigers by 17

Choctaws take their options to Florence

The game is the only matchup UNA has this season with a program they have played more than a handful of times, if ever at all. Mississippi College will journey up the Natchez Trace to the Shoals Area and bring a rushing attack like the Lions have not faced this year.

The option is working well for the Choctaws as their quarterback and running back are putting up big numbers on the ground propelling MC to rank 2nd nationally in rushing yards. They are 2-3, however, because their defense can’t contain opposing offenses enough to win the scoreboard. Detric Hawthorn leads the league with 97.2 rushing ypg and has five rushing touchdowns. On defense for MC, his twin brother Derric Hawthorn leads the team with 25 tackles in addition to his two pass breakups and forced fumble.

North Alabama is led by Christian Lopez, who has thrown for 1,207 yards with seven scores and just one interception while Damon Cox has rushed for 486 yards and two touchdowns so far this season. Christon Taylor leads the Lions defensive unit tallying 42 total tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and recoveries. Another point of note for UNA is that kicker Chandlr Carrera is 10-for-11 on field goals, as the Lions have relied heavily on him in the red zone.

I’m nervous about this game but more of UNA’s defensive woes have been on deep passes this season. That doesn’t seem to be what MC will try to do very much in this one.

My Pick: Lions by 10

The Big Time by the bay

Other than the national title game last year, Saturday’s Top 5 matchup with West Georgia will be the biggest game in the brief history of West Florida football. Not only is this game a repeat of the regular season finale that catapulted them into the postseason and to the team they then defeated just two weeks later in the playoffs in a game that should have been in Pensacola, but it’s homecoming and will be nationally broadcast as the GSC Game of the Week. Couple all that with the conference and playoff implications and we have ourselves a duel folks! This is the big time in the regular season D2 Football.

The Wolves have been playing really well after working out a few things in the early weeks. Their schedule has worked out well to navigate the GSC this season as Willie Candler has passed for 1,371 yards and 15 touchdowns while five different receivers have over 100 yards thus far. Devontae Jackson leads the team in rushing with 570 yards and six scores while Montrell Pardue is the leader of the defensive unit with 31 total tackles, four pass deflections, three breakups, an interception, and one forced fumble.

UWF’s Sam Vaughn has developed into a good leader of their offense and I’m not sure what they’ll do when or if Mike Beaudry were to return. Vaughn has passed for 1,579 yards and 14 touchdowns so far this season with six different receivers having over 100 yards. Chris Schwarz continues to be the work horse on the ground but has broken out lately by pounding 278 rushing yards in just the past two games. Gavin Burford is the leader of the UWF defense with 48 total tackles, 4.0 TFL, 1.5 sacks, and a pass breakup.

I think UWF will need to play their best football of the season to win this one if both teams play well But, if the Wolves make any mistakes like racking up a ton of penalties, this will be a very winnable game for the Argos.

My Pick: West Georgia by 1

GSC Players of the Week Battle

J.T. Hassell and Rogan Wells have both earned conference honors at least three times this season, including this past week. This game with feature the GSC Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week facing off head-to-head as Florida Tech hosts Valdosta State.

Hassell earned this honor for the third time this year after recording 20 total tackles (15 solo) along with a forced fumble and pass breakup. He is just the 10th player in league history to record at least 20 tackles in a game. The last was Chris Pope of VSU in 2013. Antwuan Haynes was nominated for the offensive category this past week and has 412 yards and three scores this season. Trent Chmelik has been steady at quarterback passing for 1,278 yards and nine touchdowns while his favorite target, Romell Guerrier, has 456 yards on the season along with six TD catches.

His fourth time to win the honor this year, Wells tallied a career-best 364 yards and rushed for a career-high two scores. His four-time award puts him in the same group with only two other great Blazer QB’s, Chris Hatcher and Lance Funderburk – both in the mid-90s. Unfortunately for FIT, VSU has two more GSC honorees from this past week to face running the total number of different Blazers to earn Player of the Week honors this season to 8. Kicker Andrew Gray was named Special Teams Player of the Week (1 FG, 8 XP) while Freshman of the Week Michael Henderson returned five kicks for a total of 124 yards. The fifth Valdosta freshman to win the honor in consecutive weeks, he ranks second in the league with 27.3 ypr.

Will the Tech defense be able to contain the red hot Blazers offensive attack? This contest has all the makings for a great game but I just feel VSU has the upper hand even on the road.

My Pick: Blazers by 14

Andy Davis has followed GSC sports since 1985 and proudly covered the conference for since 2014. He is a past contributor to the D2 Football Preview, TimesDaily, and Franklin County Times as well as having appeared on ESPN Pensacola radio. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

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Updated 10-10-2018 at 10:16 PM by Andy Davis



  1. Wide_Right's Avatar
    Was watching the M.C. game , and the announcer said the Choctaws have been playing football since. 1907.
    They stopped before and after WWI. But have played 113 football games.

    Now, that's some history.!!
  2. Andy Davis's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Wide_Right
    Was watching the M.C. game , and the announcer said the Choctaws have been playing football since. 1907.
    They stopped before and after WWI. But have played 113 football games.

    Now, that's some history.!!
    Wow, that is a lot of years of football! Thanks for commenting and for your support via Ko-Fi! Much appreciated.