Sunday, July 24, 2011
Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference 2011 Preview
Adams State Grizzlies
2010 Record: 5-6
Trevor Eggleston returns at QB for the Grizzlies, but he struggled last fall. He passed for 1976 yards, but only tossed 9 TD passes compared to his 8 picks. That's an issue. The Grizzles ran 3 different backs last season as a committee, and they all return in Terjean Saffold, Chris Jamison, and Thomas Brown. Scott Kellogg and and Delton Prescott both return at WR, so improvement on offense could be a definite possibility this fall. The Grizzles also return their top 3 tacklers from last fall in Rocco DeLorenzo, James Ackel, and Will Naas. DeLorenzo collected 99 tackles last fall. The Grizzles are, however, lacking pressure up front, and that will need fixing. Ackel and Haas both return in the secondary after they combined for 18 defended passes, while Jeremiah Van Valkenburg returns back there after knocking away 8 passes.
Season Opener: 9/3 @ Dixie State
Chadron State Eagles
2010 Record: 8-3
The Eagles had a very nice run last fall, and finished up strong by winning 5 straight to close it out. Jonn McClain returns at QB after a strong freshman campaign that saw him pass for 1894 yards and 16 TDs. Glen Clinton, also a freshman last fall, was dynamic at times, having rushed for 1020 yards and 7 scores. Dominic Morris also returns at RB after rushing for 803 yards and 6 TDs. Nathan Ross and Jeremy Sondrup both return at WR, so McClain's continued growth should be set in stone. James Belville returns at LB after collecting 80 tackles last fall. Belville also led the team with 7 total sacks and added 8 TFLs. The loss of Kelen Kahrs up front is tough. The Eagles also lose some serious depth in the secondary.
Season Opener: 9/1 @ Mary
Colorado State-Pueblo ThunderWolves
2010 Record: 9-2
The Wolves are still a very young program, but boy have they figured it out in a short time. Ross Dausin returns at QB, and although he was not the best passer in the league, he was solid. Dausin passed for 1674 yards and 12 TDs. He did only toss 6 picks. The real strength is at RB, as the Wolves return the 3rd best rusher in the nation last fall in Jesse Turner, who rushed for 1391 yards and 14 TDs. But wait...there's more. They also return Jamaal Johnson, who rushed for 9 TDs. Losing Bernard Jackson at WR is a step back, but someone decent has to be waiting to stand up to replacing him. Another star resides here at LB in Lee Meisner, who finished 6th nationally with 124 tackles last fall. Beldy Nseka returns after collecting 70 tackles. Beau Martin finished 2nd in the conference with 7.5 sacks, and Grant Jansen added another 7. Jansen, Jason Campbell, Beau Martin, and Meisner combined for 45.5 TFLs last fall, so there is plenty of pressure coming from all angles. Josh Costa returns to anchor the secondary after defending 7 passes last fall, but the Wolves lose some serious depth. Damon Shiele will return to assist him after picking off 3 passes last fall. The opener will tell just how far this team has come.
Season Opener: 9/1 @ West Texas A&M
Colorado Mines Orediggers
2010 Record: 9-3
The Diggers are another rising program that are helping to raise the profile of this conference. Mines took their game to the playoffs, but were handled by traditional power Grand Valley State, 35-13. The Diggers are hoping to take it another level this season, and they have the QB to take them there in Harlan Hill candidate Clay Garcia, who passed for 4066 yards and 39 TDs last fall in a pass happy offense. Dan Palmer is a nice complimentary back to the passing game, as he rushed for 11 TDs last fall. They return their top 3 WRs from last season in Cody Renken, Jerrod Doucet, and Tom Kastens, but they do lose all conference TE Robbin Vinnola.Josh Ruff and Alex Vigil both return at LB and are the top 2 tacklers from last season, but they do lose their pressure guys up front from last fall. Ryan Wood tied for the conference lead with 6 picks last fall, and will anchor the secondary as a sophomore. He lost some help around him, so he really needs to be the man. I still think that the Diggers are the top team in the RMAC.
Season Opener: 9/3 @ William Jewell
Fort Lewis Skyhawks
2010 Record: 3-7
Tim Jenkins returns at QB for the Hawks, but he was up and down last fall. He passed for 14 TDs, but also chucked 10 picks. He has potential, but he has to make it all work now. That being said, it may already be too late. AJ Miko struggled as well last season at RB, and barely got by 500 yards. He also needs to step it up. Doyle Bode and Justin Garman will both return at WR, but the loss of Justin Johnson, the leagues top receiver last fall, will hurt. Phillip O'Dell will return as the leading tackler, but he needs some support. O'Dell also led the team with 8 TFLs. Harrison Hunter and Jamal Campbell were both freshmen last fall, but combined for 17 defended passes last fall.
Season Opener: 9/3 South Dakota Mines
Mesa State Mavericks
2010 Record: 3-7
The Mavericks were another team taking some lumps last fall. Mike Mankoff tossed 13 picks last fall, and that was a killer. James Hamm was basically a warm body at RB, after he only rushed for 469 yards. The entire offense was a wreck, and they will have to hope that some youngsters come in and step up. Trent Debraga returns as the leading tackler coming out of the secondary, after he posted 71 tackles. Dominique Lewis was solid up front, as he collected 13 TFLs last fall. Debraga also picked off 3 passes.
Season Opener: 9/1 Humboldt State
2010 Record: 9-2
A solid season came up just short after they failed to finish top 6 in their district, causing a missed playoff bid. Jeff Spitzleberger returns at QB, and will try to push the Lopers to the next level. He passed for 22 TDs and 2314 yards last fall. He is extremely solid. He also rushed for 421 yards and 6 scores. A RB needs to step up. Losing Kyle Kaiser could really be damaging, however. Ethan Kuhlmann finished 4th in the conference with 82 tackles, and Sam Kuck joins him after collecting 76 tackles on the season. Kuhlmann is the main pressure guy up front, as he grabbed 8.5 TFLs. Arthur Hobbs defended 10 passes last season, and he is joined by Kenny Hill and Alex Paicurich, giving the Lopers are in a very good position to press Mines to Pueblo.
Season Opener: @ Wayne State (Nebraska)
New Mexico Highlands Cowboys
2010 Record: 1-10
What a mess this team is. The passing game is a total disaster, and the QB job is wide open. Same said at RB. Kevon Williams is a credible WR, as he posted 62-764-1. He needs to score more than once to give the Cowboys any shot at moving past one win. The Cowboys gave up more than 30 points in 10 of 11 games last fall, so a rebuilding job is in place.
Season Opener: 9/3 @ Eastern New Mexico
Western New Mexico Mustangs
2010 Record: 4-7
The Mustangs are just a filler in this conference right now. Chris Voller completed fewer than 50% of his passes, and also tossed 12 picks to just 10 TDs. That does not win games, obviously. Mario Wren only ran for 264 yards as a freshman, but he's the best returning option. The receivers are pedestrian at best. Jacib Cross does return at LB after recording 87 tackles last fall, and LB Ryan Nolen returns after recording 8.5 TFLs. Anthony Phillips returns after defending 7 passes. Terron Sumpter returned after picking 3 passes. The defense may be better, but the offense was a mess.
Season Opener: Sul Ross State
Western State Mountaineers
2010 Record: 1-10
The Mountaineers are not in good shape right now. Miles Gorham is not the worst QB in the job, but he has to be better than he is right now. He tossed 10 TDs to 9 picks, but that's not enough to change the dynamic when there is so little to work with. Germaine Daniels rushed for 664 yards and 4 scores, but again, more is needed, as the offense struggled to score so many times last fall. The Mountaineers scored 13 points or less 6 times last fall. Taylor Keith totalled up 10 TFLs last fall, so there is at least one bonified potential star on the unit. Seth Wilson brings some veteran depth to the secondary. Western State may very well win more than one game this season, but they will not post a winning record.
Season Opener: 9/3 Angelo State