Colonels to open Saturday

September 03, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

There are a great many unknowns at the start of any football season, but one of the things the Centre College Colonels have already found out about themselves could serve them well this fall.

Centre measured itself against a quality opponent last week in preparation for Saturday's season opener at Bluffton, and coach Andy Frye said he was pleased with the results.

The Colonels more than held their own in their annual scrimmage with Hanover, a team that has made three straight trips to the Division III playoffs.

"We definitely played with them," Frye said. "We were ahead on the scoreboard, but that was only a half. I just knew from the scrimmage that we matched up well."


"The mistakes that we made can be corrected. They weren't because we were outmanned."

Centre doesn't figure to be outmanned Saturday against Bluffton, either. The Beavers went winless in Hanover's league, the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, last year in their first season under a new coach.

Frye said he expects Bluffton to be better than last year's 2-8 showing, in part because they have now had time to adjust to coach Greg Brooks' system and because they have some good personnel.

Frye cited junior quarterback Jared Owens, who threw for 1,388 yards and ran for another 445 last year, and and junior running back Ben Dodds, who earned first-team all-HCAC honors after rushing for 1,049 yards.

"He would be a good running back in our conference. And their quarterback can make things happen," Frye said.

Bluffton also returns its entire offensive line, and the Beavers lost only one starter on the defensive line.

Offensive line should be a strength

The offensive line should be a strength for Centre, which returns five players with starting experience there.

"Every short-yardage situation in the scrimmage we were in, we won," he said. "That tells you our kids are sticking it up in there and playing aggressively. I'm really pleased with our offensive line. It could be one of the better ones we've had here."

The line will protect a veteran quarterback in senior Brian Behrendt, who threw for 2,118 yards this season, a talented pair of running backs in junior Adam Blandford and senior Jeremy Britt and a solid corps of receivers led by senior David Crowley.

"We could be a good offensive team," Frye said.

The strength of the defense is the linebacking corps, which consists of seniors Jarrod Zywien, Nathan Fell and Brian Downs.

The Colonels will probably have to do without Downs in the opener. Frye said he expects Downs to miss the game with a torn medial collateral ligament.

Frye said even though this year's 14-man senior class has a different personality than the group that led Centre to a share of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference championship last year, he said the group seems to be developing good leadership.

"I think it's a good senior class, which is the nucleus of any good football program," he said. "This senior class has the ability to hopefully make us competitive."

Centre, 8-2 last year, was picked to finish fourth in the SCAC behind Trinity, DePauw and Rhodes.

This is the first meeting since 1958 between Centre and Bluffton, which is located in northwest Ohio about 60 miles south of Toledo.

Bluffton leads the series 2-1. The teams will meet at Centre to open the 2005 season.

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