Centre ready for conference play

September 19, 2003|MIKE MARSEE

Andy Frye said it's easy to tell when a big game is coming up at Centre College.

The Centre coach said there are clear signs that his team is taking an upcoming game more seriously than usual, and he said all of those signs have been evident this week as the Colonels prepare to play Rhodes in their Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference opener here Saturday.

"One gauge I use is how intense our kids are in practice during the week," Frye said. "Are they coming upstairs to watch film, are they doing the little things they need to do? I would say yes to all those things."

It's a chance for Centre to make a good first impression in the SCAC, where it tied for fourth place last year and is picked to finish third this year.


The Colonels passed two pre-conference tests, and Frye said he was particularly pleased with their performance last week against Franklin & Marshall.

"The Franklin & Marshall game was really a good game for us to gear up," he said. "I'm hoping we still are on our learning curve, and I'm hoping this week we've improved also."

Frye said he forsees better balance in the seven-team SCAC this season, and Saturday's game at Farris Stadium pairs two teams trying to stay near the front of the pack.

"They're a pretty good football team," he said. "I think there's a lot of good football teams in our conference. This might be the best parity we've had in our conference games."

Rhodes is facing a more desperate situation than Centre after absorbing a conference loss in its season opener two weeks ago.

"Sometimes you grow fangs when you're cornered," he said. "They know their backs are to the wall. They can still be conference contenders if they win the rest of their (SCAC) games, but they can't afford another loss."

Rhodes lost to DePauw, beat Maryville

A last-second field goal lifted DePauw over Rhodes 28-26 on opening day, but the Lynx bounced back to beat Maryville (Tenn.) 38-20 last week.

First-year cornerback Ben Hobbs helped Rhodes put Maryville away when he blocked a punt and intercepted a pass on consecutive series to set up scores that allowed the Lynx to stretch their lead from 24-20 to 38-20. Hobbs was named the SCAC defensive player of the week.

But the Rhodes offense also has plenty of punch, with 64 points and over 900 yards in two games.

"When you get 60 points in two games, you're obviously doing things well," Frye said.

Centre has done the same thing, scoring 65 points in wins over Kenyon and F&M.

The Colonels' offense has been led by all-purpose running back Lorenzo Engleman, who has rushed for 274 yards and caught 17 passes -- nearly twice as many as any other Centre receiver -- for another 109.

Rhodes' offensive star is junior quarterback Daniel Swanstrom, who was named the SCAC offensive player of the week after the Maryville game in which he completed 23 of 37 passes for 293 yards and rushed for another 89 yards.

"He'll do whatever it takes, and he'll do it himself if he has to," Frye said.

Frye said the Colonels' young defensive front will face its toughest test yet from Rhodes' offense, especially when defending the run.

"All of their backs run hard, and their offensive line really gets off the ball well," he said.

But the Centre coach said he feels much better about the defense than he did two weeks ago.

"I felt our kids grew up a lot in that last week," Frye said. "They're young, and they're still learning."

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