Crusader Football Season Preview: Part Two
Tigerville, SC – The 2014 season of Crusader football is just around the corner as head coach Jeff Farrington enters his second season at the helm of the program. Despite a sub-par 5-6 record last season, Farrington and his staff have high hopes for their sophomore campaign on the field.
North Greenville returns seven starters to an offense that averaged 412.5 yards per game and 27.9 points per game, while also returning seven starters to a defensive unit looking to mature after starting six freshmen during the 2013 season.
In Part Two of our Four-Part Season Preview Series, we analyze the an offensive line that returns eight players who have seen action at the collegiate level, including three starters from a year ago while also taking a look at a receiving corp looking to replace one of the most dominant athletes in Crusader football history.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: The 2014 receiving corps returns many familiar faces to the field while looking to replace arguably the most dominant receiver in Division II football from a season ago. The graduation of Freddie Martino (146 receptions, 1,680 yards, 12 touchdowns in 2013) leaves an open spot at the #1 receiver position with a number of players looking to take his place. Sophomore Tyrecous Garrett caught 26 passes for 321 yards and two touchdowns in 11 games, while junior Tyrell Hillary also saw action in every game, totaling 15 receptions for 185 yards from the slot. Senior Thomas Weeks III (seven receptions, 66 yards, two touchdowns) is fully recovered from a broken collarbone just three games into the season, while sophomore Robbie Brown (four receptions, 65 yards in four games) and senior transfer Rob Greene (Wofford College) provide additional targets for North Greenville.
Incoming freshman Mason Sanders provides size (6’6”, 215lbs) and a stout resume (85 receptions, 1,450 yards, 22 touchdowns as a senior at Boiling Springs High School), while fellow freshman Kyle Brandt (Rock Hill, SC/South Pointe High School) adds to the size advantage (6’6”, 190lbs) after catching 34 passes for 437 yards and six touchdowns as a senior at South Pointe High School a year ago. Freshman Javon Smith (Blythewood, SC/Blythewood High School) is also expected to produce in the passing game with his quickness, agility and ability to lineup at multiple positions out wide or in the slot after racking up 395 yards from scrimmage and 10 total touchdowns as a high school senior.
The tight end position also returns two players who saw significant time on the field last season in seniors Brock Frisbee and Blake Bensch. Transfer Ricki Delos Santos comes to North Greenville after two seasons at Nassau CC and is expected to provide an immediate impact with his experience and athleticism in the passing game.
Offensive Line: North Greenville’s offensive line will also need to fill a few holes left by the graduation of two seniors from last year’s unit. Eight of the returning 10 lineman saw action on the field in 2013 whether it be on offense or on the special teams unit as the linemen allowed just 18 sacks on the season and helped the Crusaders to 120.6 rushing yards per game and 14 touchdowns on the ground. Seniors Armani Delaney (17 career games, 11 starts) and junior Matthew Rochester (15 games, 14 starts) return to give the team significant experience up front. Senior transfer Charles Coleman comes to Tigerville after spending three seasons at The Citadel, having played in 21 games at the Division I level, also providing experience and leadership.
Sophomores Armon Lindsay, Cory Hoesli, Dillon Alford and Parks Wallington each saw playing time during last season for unit that will also feature a few fresh faces with red-shirt freshmen Michael Thomas and Casey Stewart competing for time. Freshman Cameron Stepp (Chesnee, SC/Chesnee High School) is also expected to compete for playing time along with fellow freshmen Jordan Watson (Honea Path, SC/Belton Honea Path High School) and Gage Smith (Gilbert, SC/Gilbert High School).
The Crusaders open up the 2014 season at home when they host Ave Maria University on Thursday, Sept. 4 in Younts Stadium at 7 p.m.