I started the blog after listening to an Internet broadcast of the 2008 game vs. Emory and Henry. It was a frustrating experience, because I felt it was a game, Ferrum could have won. After taking a 50-7 drubbing the year before, the 2008 game was a far better contest. It featured two of Ferrum's best offensive players to ever wear the black hat. Marcus Mayo, and Mike Vann. In this game it started out fairly evenly, but the Panthers fell behind and seemed to be out of it in the fourth quarter as they trailed by 19, 26-7. Vann and Mayo had other ideas as in the last 5:22 of the game, they helped put 14 more points on the board and make the score respectable. While it seemed that the momentum had shifted, and Ferrum just ran out of clock, this was a game that could have ended in a win. At the time I was just glad it was not like the year before.
So now we head into the 2016 season with far more questions, and far fewer answers than I can remember in a long time. The conference has 3 teams with new coaches, and one team that is ranked in the preseason top 25. So how will it end up? Can Ferrum make a run toward the conference championship? Below you will see my predictions, but first, lets see how I did last year.
8) Averett University
7) Greensboro College
6) Ferrum College
5) North Carolina Wesleyan
4) Maryville College
3) LaGrange College
2) Methodist University
1) Huntingdon College
Well I got Huntingdon right. Again last year there seemed to be those that could, and then the rest of the conference. Huntingdon, Maryville, and North Carolina Wesleyan, all had winning records in the conference, with the other five schools having losing records. It should be an interesting year. Here is how I see it ending up.
Record projections reflect (conference record, and overall record)
8) Greensboro College (0-7, 1-9)
The Pride is one of three conference teams that will have a new coach this season. While they did attain three wins last year, and their graduating loss was low, I anticipate that this year may not be as productive for them. Look for this team to overall get stronger and be more of a force in the conference next year.
7) Methodist University (1-6, 2-8)
A few years ago, Methodist seemed to have their football machine headed in a strong direction. This year they will introduce their third head coach since the departure of Coach Sypult at the end of the 2010 season. To me, this would make for a hard adjustment for the players, and the assistants. I expect the inconsistency, along with graduation losses that affected all three phases of their team, to keep positive results hard to come by.
6) Averett University (2-5, 2-8)
The Averett Cougars are coming off of a 2-7 campaign that could have been a much better year. It is not hard to imagine that Averett could have had a 4-6, or possibly a 5-5 year. In this pick, I could be way off, but I think when it all plays out, Averett will have about the same results as last year.
5) Ferrum College (3-4, 4-6)
After a dismal finish in each of the last three seasons, Ferrum becomes another conference program with a new head coach, and many new assistants. With a strong returning group of players, and what appears to be a solid first year recruiting effort by the coaching staff, I look for this to be a strong first step for the Panthers. Some may say I am being overly optimistic with this prediction, but I don't think so. Time will tell. There is a lot for the players to learn, both offensively and defensively, but I do believe that the coaching staff will push the needle, and move Ferrum in the direction of once again being competitive, and contending for the conference title.
4) LaGrange College (4-3, 5-5)
The LaGrange Panthers, are coming off of a 2-7 season that saw their sophomore quarterback throw for 2644 yards and 19 touchdowns. With their three top receivers returning, look for quarterback Connor Blair to again put it up often. If LaGrange can get the defensive kinks worked out, they may be in the mix as the season winds down. This is a team that could pull an upset.
3) North Carolina Wesleyan College (5-2, 7-3)
Coming off a strong 5-2 conference record, and an overall 5-5 season, this team is systematically getting better. They will have some holes to fill due to graduation, most notably the quarterback position, and this could be problematic as it appears they lost two quarterbacks to graduation. Their running backs and receiving corps are in tact, but whether they can be as strong as last year remains to be seen. Their second game of the season, they host Mount Union. Yes, that Mount Union.....defending National Champion Mount Union, and preseason #1. Playing the Purple Raiders will be like trying to stop a freight train with a sledge hammer......it will not happen. If, after this the Bishops are not too banged up, then look for them to have a solid year. If they incur a lot of injuries in this game, and that is a real possibility, they may not finish as high as I have them listed.
2) Maryville College (6-1, 9-1)
The Fighting Scots are looking to come into the season, and not just win, but win the conference title. While there roster looks solid, they, like North Carolina Wesleyan, will find the experience level at quarterback thin. Graduation took two quarterbacks from the roster, leaving them somewhat inexperienced at this position.
After losing only two games last year (Huntingdon, and NCWC) the Scots get to play both of those teams at home this year.
I look for them to be a solid team, but may come up just short in their bid for the playoffs.
1) Huntingdon College (7-0, 10-0)
Ranked 24th in the nation in the preseason poll, the Huntingdon Hawks are looking to pick up right where they left off. From a depth perspective, they have 8 quarterbacks on their roster. Last years starter, Luke Bailey returns to team with 17 WR's on their roster, so he will have quite a few targets. If Bailey does not want to pass, he has a corps of 8 running backs he can hand off to. This in essence, is a deep and solid team, and I look for them to make a run in the playoffs.
So there are my predictions for the season. I am looking forward to Sept. 3rd. This year will have lots of surprises, and many good games.