Centre prepares for run at title

October 10, 2003|MIKE MARSEE


Andy Frye probably wouldn't want to put his Centre College football team on the basketball court, but he doesn't mind applying a bit of classic basketball philosophy to the gridiron.

The Centre coach is borrowing from the wisdom of John Wooden as he prepares the Colonels for a fight for a conference championship in the second half of the season, which starts with Saturday's game against winless Millsaps at Farris Stadium.

Frye has been stressing to his team the importance of reaching "competitive greatness," one of the elements of Wooden's well-known "Pyramid of Success" that essentially means being at your best when your best is needed.


"Our whole approach to this week is using John Wooden's line of being competitively great: How can each player become better?" Frye said. "We're trying to emphasize the fact that within a team everyone has to improve."

Frye said that has happened for the most part through the first half of the season. Most recently, the Colonels bounced back from their only loss to date to eke out a 21-16 win at Sewanee last week.

"I thought our defensive play got a little bit better," Frye said. "We did a good job against the run.

"And the kids played hard for four quarters. That was a real aggressive football game, so that was a good sign."

Centre begins the second half in a two-way tie with Trinity for first place in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference and would take a perfect league record into its game at Trinity in two weeks if it can win Saturday.

"We've just got to continue to build on our momentum," Frye said.

Millsaps is looking to build some momentum - any momentum - in its first conference game of the season.

"They're starting conference play, so they've got their second season and they've got their second wind," Frye said.

The Majors have lost all four of their games this season, and they have a nine-game losing streak that started the week after they defeated Centre 14-7 last season.

But their last two losses were by just six points to Emory & Henry and eight points to Maryville (Tenn.).

"They're playing well; the problem is they're just turning the ball over," Frye said.

Millsaps, which runs the ball more than 70 percent of the time, is averaging four turnovers per game and is last in the SCAC in turnover margin and scoring offense and 5 yards away from being last in total offense.

Frye said first-year coach David Saunders, who spent the last four years as the recruiting coordinator at Mississippi, has changed little in Millsaps' system.

"The biggest thing is a renewed spirit," Frye said. "Those kids are playing hard, but they've lost a few close games."

One of the Majors' problems is manpower. Their roster lists only 53 players, about 30 fewer than Centre has.

But there are good players among them, including senior linebacker Matt O'Bryant, last year's SCAC defensive player of the year. The 6-2, 240-pound O'Bryant has two sacks, five tackles for losses, two pass breakups, a fumble recovery and an interception.

"He's their mainstay," Frye said. "We have to be able to at least control him a little bit."

"We've got to try to exploit some things they do. For instance, they like to bring people."

Centre's defensive effort in its win at Sewanee looks better than it did six days ago, at least on paper. Sewanee submitted incorrect statistics for the game, and Frye said the revised numbers show that the Colonels allowed only about 190 total yards and held quarterback Wes Satterfield, who ran for more than 100 yards in his previous two games to 57 yards rushing instead of 105.

Headlining the defensive effort was John Ortega, who earned the SCAC defensive player of the week award and a spot on the national team of the week with 15 tackles. Ortega ranks second only to O'Bryant among the SCAC leaders in tackles per game.

Jacob Coleman intercepted three passes for Centre, which leads the league in total defense at 270 yards allowed per game, and Kevin Tytus returned an interception for a touchdown.

Lorenzo Engleman accounted for 157 yards of total offense against Sewanee, and the senior running back leads the conference in receptions (38) and ranks second in rushing.

The Sewanee stat sheet also showed that Danville High School graduate Bennett Clark kicked two of Centre's three extra points, but that was not the case. Chris Thompson kicked all three extra points; Clark remains the Colonels' kickoff specialist.

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