“Strike the Stone.”
The Jamey Chadwell era with the North Greenville University football program will begin Saturday, August 29, and the first year mentor has categorically laid out the vision for his new team …. ‘Strike the Stone.’
“What that means is when you are hammering a rock, and you hit it 100 times, it is eventually going to break,”
Chadwell said. “It doesn’t break because of the 100th blow, but from the constant pressure you’ve put on it. Our program will be built on the belief that we will maintain pressure on our opponents and they will ultimately break and fall.”
Chadwell, who took over the reins of the NGU program in February, has had but a brief spring practice period to evaluate what remains from a team that endured a murderous schedule that resulted in a deceiving 2-9 record. However, he knows he will have a major challenge re-constructing an offense that returns but four regular starters; But, the young mentor will have a stout veteran defense returning to anchor the first blows on the stone.
Chadwell’s Plan – Expect to Win
“Our theme for this year’s team is “Expect to Win,” Chadwell noted. “This group of players is eager
to prove they can win because last year’s schedule was extremely difficult and they lost some close
games that could have been won. However, this team is buying into what we’re doing. They are believing that if you work hard and put in the effort, good things will happen. This year’s team is hungry to win, and the majority of them want to work hard with the end result being winning.”
“The biggest challenge for us as we approach the season is that there is no adversity right now,” Chadwell added. “The players are feeling pretty good about themselves coming out of the summer, but what will happen when we match up with other teams? The coaching staff has spent a lot of time trying to get them to realize that we are going to face some adversity. It’s going to happen. We have asked them, how are you going to respond? If we can face it, respond positively, and then overcome the adversity, we can keep striking the stone and bouncing back; that will give us a chance to win games.”
“We’re a very eager football team. Our immediate plan right now is to win as many games as possible
because we owe it to the guys that are entering their final season. With any type of plan you have to
base it on recruiting players that fit in to your system. This year, we’ve got to take the guys that remain
and make them work with what we want to run.
We might have a few round holes trying to go into a square peg, but maybe we can whittle it down a little and win some games. If we had different
personnel, we would probably do it another way, but coming in new, we’ve got to modify the system to
fit the players that are in place and make it work. You’ve got to do whatever you can to be successful.”
Chadwell’s System – Get Players the Ball With Space “My philosophy as a football coach is to get my players the ball with space,” Chadwell explained. “I
want to get the ball to our wide receivers and running backs so they can operate with space so they can
make some plays. We want to spread the field out and make our opponents predicate how they should
line up to match our formations. We want to gash them north and south and that should result in some
big plays. However, you cannot just run the ball or just throw it to win. Your offense must be
“A key factor is that you must base your system on the personnel available to you. We’ve inherited a
lot, so we’ve got to go with what is available. I’m not going to change the system based upon what we’d
like to run here at North Greenville, but rather, we’ve got to adapt to the players we have right now. In
the future, we will recruit specific types of players who have played in the spread in high school, and
once they get in the system, we’ll be able to adapt it to what we’d like to do.”
The Crusader Outlook
Approaching the 2009 season, it would appear NGU would be a mere blip on the schedule for its 10
opponents. Coach Jamey Chadwell thinks otherwise. “I’d like to go undefeated this year; I know it may
seem unrealistic, but I know what type of talent we have. Our staff is going to push them to try to win
every game. You may look at North Alabama, ranked in the top five in Division II, and say ‘no way,’ …
you could also look at Charleston Southern, and say, ‘no way,’ … or, you could look at the three South
Atlantic Conference teams we’ll play. It’s a tough schedule, but we’re going in with the attitude that we
should have a shot at every game. “
“My goal is for us to be competitive every week. But more importantly, I want to see us improve from
fall camp, through every week of the season, every game, and all the way to the end of the season. I’d
like to see our mental status, execution and our competitive rate improve. If I look out on that field and
we’re executing, competing and playing hard, I’ll be able to go home and sleep at night and feel good
about our effort. From game one to game 10, if we improve and compete every week, we should have
a better than average season.”
“I also hope our team continues to grow spiritually. As a coaching staff, God has brought us all here for
a purpose. We’re all part of his family and we represent Him. God doesn’t care about wins and losses.
He does care about how your represent Him and how we handle ourselves on and off the field. If
you’re NGU, you are representing God, and how you carry yourself is important. We stand for Him and
we hope to honor him. He wants us to win, but how you honor him is more important.”
Steady QB, Influx of New Talent to Pace Offense
Observers of the NGU Crusaders might cringe at the possibilities on the offensive side of the line this fall. With the departure of the most talented set of running backs in school history, Rashad Cumming and Matt Moore, stellar wide receiver Brandon Dobbins, and a veteran offensive line, Coach Chadwell knows the offense will be his biggest challenge.
The Crusaders’ depth chart isn’t completely empty as sophomore quarterback Richard Harb, who started all 11 games last year and threw for 1,613 yards and seven touchdowns. “Harb played a lot last season, and even with that experience, he now has to learn a new system,” Chadwell explained. “Some of his experience will carry over, but he still has to have the time to learn how to execute the new looks and throw the ball accurately.”
Chadwell will be looking for players who know what to do on the field and will play hard every down.
“We know we’ll be inexperienced, and we will struggle some. We’re hoping with an influx of new talent and having a spring with the system and going through the fall, we will pick it up quickly. We have brought in 10 to 12 new players that got here after signing date, and several of those people are going to have to play. We are counting on them contributing on offense.”
Other starters returning include Evan Trigg (JR 6-2 280) and Jordan Florio (JR 6-3 275) on the offensive line, and speedy wide receiver Marcus Middleton (SO 5-11 180). “Coming out of the spring, Harb would start at quarterback and Florio and Trigg would be on the line. But, I’ve made it very clear to every player that no one has a locked in starting position,” Chadwell stated. Chadwell also sees Sean Wright (SO 6-4 185) getting early playing time at wide receiver. The running back spot is a tossup because of the heavy losses, so the Crusaders will see new starters in the backfield. He does think that seven of the players that were starters in the spring, will be on the field opening night. James Thurn (JR 6-5 250) should see time at tackle, John Deuerling (SO 5-10 280) will be at guard, along with Asa Wright (SO 6-2 295), Trigg will start at center, Florio at tackle and Middleton, Wright and Taylor Malphrus (JR 6-0 187) will play at wide out.
Veteran Defense Will Anchor Crusaders
The bright spot for the Crusaders will be on the defensive side of the ball. Spearheaded by three-time All-American Andre Bernardi (SR 6-3 265), NGU will put an experienced defensive line on the field, that will be backed up by hard-hitting linebackers and a speedy secondary. “We’ve got a lot of people coming back from last season, most notably Bernardi, Joe Novotasky (SR 6-1 260), and Johnell Bell (SR 6-0 275) up front,” Chadwell said. “Doug Wilson (SR 6-1 216) played a lot at linebacker last season, as did Nick Rosamonda (SO 6-1 195). Jereme Green (SO 5-11 180), Xavier Boykin (SR 5-9 180), and Chandler Bailey (SR 6-0 203), form a really good secondary.”
“Our defense has a chance to be very good if they stay healthy,” Chadwell added. “They’re going to be who we will rely on to make some stops until our young offense catches up. The defensive staff has done a great job putting guys in a position to be successful.”
Andre Bernardi is one of the most talented defensive linemen in Division II football. We played against
him the last three years while we were at CSU, and I base everything I’ve seen about him on his work
ethic and how hard he’s worked since I came on campus. He has tremendous leadership ability. It’s
easy to see why he’s been an All-American; he loves to play. You’re simply not going to out work him,
out hit him or outhustle him. He’s just a great kid with some good potential to play beyond his college
days. Novotasky and Bell have emerged as also been solid leaders in the spring. They’ve have some
good experience as well. Xavier Boykin is a good corner. He’s not flashy and isn’t very vocal, but when
you watch him hit; he’s got a chance to have a really good season.
Special Teams Gets Special Emphasis
Special teams was not a strong point for NGU last season and Chadwell was very clear that will not be
the case this season. “We’re going to put a big emphasis on that and now important it is,” he clarified.
“As long as I’m here, we’re going to emphasize that. If you’re not as talented as other teams, you’ve got
to work harder at that area. If you do a good job there and don’t turn the ball over, you’ve always got a
chance to win. Our special teams must improve for us to have a solid season.”
North Greenville returns both its kicker and punter from last year in Michael Sears (SR 5-11 210) and
Justin Jones (SR 5-10 170) respectively. Zach Sears, Michael’s younger brother, is an incoming
freshman and will challenge both of them for a job.
“It’s an open competition,” Chadwell said. “Special
teams were not our strong suit, so we’ve got to get better. Taylor Malphrus and DillonTwitchell were
our long snappers in spring; they’ve got to develop quickly as well.
Return guys – asked FB if he had any eligibility left !
Marcus Middleton is the heir apparent to the punt and kick returner position. He has blazing speed and
can be dangerous.
Jamarius Robinson (SO 6-0 185) also could see some duty on the return team.
The NGU Crusaders and first year head coach Jamey Chadwell plan to “Strike the Stone” repeatedly this
season and all indicators show that the defense will be solid, and the offense will be young, but infused with new talent to make a run at a successful season. As Chadwell points out, the Crusaders ‘have potential’, but you know what potential is. “We have to learn very quickly and develop consistency. We will teach our players to expect to win, but developing consistency will always be a theme with our program. If you do that every day, you’ll have a chance every game.”