Catawba notebook: Young linebackers in waiting

By Ronnie Gallaghner, The Salisbury Post

The Catawba College football notebook. ...

Catawba lost 15 starters from last year’s 11-1 season, but the one thing coach David Bennett can always brag about is his linebackers.

Is there a better group in Division II than Shawn Sanders, Shawn McBride, Darris Morris and Todd McComb? Those four are a big part of Catawba’s current 7-0 record.
But the first three names are seniors. Who will join McComb next season?

Dustin Cox and Kenny White, both redshirt freshmen, put in their two cents worth Saturday in a 59-0 win over North Greenville.

White, a Davie County product, had two tackles for losses and recovered a fumble. Cox, from Ledford, became the ninth Indian to intercept a pass.

“We told Dustin that if he hadn’t gained all that muscle in the weight room over the summer he might have been able to score on that,” Bennett said.


INJURIES: The 59-0 win wasn’t all good. Austin Summers, a redshirt freshman transfer from South Carolina, dislocated his knee and is out for the year while Mark Sintich suffered a sprained ankle.

“I’ve never seen a kid that tough,” Bennett said of Summers. “He never cried a tear and never grimaced. He kept asking, ‘Will I be able to play next week.’ ”

Doctors think there is possible ACLand MCLdamage.

Sintich was injured while blocking on a Tony Hawkins touchdown run. He said he heard the whistle, stopped and Hawkins kept going, stepping on his foot.


PLAYERSOFTHEWEEK: No one played very long in the rout, giving the reserves a chance to win the player of the week award.

Maurice Simpkins, a true freshman, won the team’s defensive award. He was in on eight tackles and had a sack.

Quarterback Luke Samples barely played a half but when he went out, it was 28-0 and he was 8-of-9 passing for 119 yards. He threw and ran for scores.

Maurice Price was the special teams player of the week.


MEANSWATCH: Junior receiver Nick Means of Thomasville keeps climbing the career ladder.

He caught three passes Saturday and now has 102 for 1,548 yards.

Jeff Park is the all-time leader in receptions with 156 and Ike Hill leads in yardage at 2,089.

“We were picking at Nick this week,” Bennett said. “We told him (Cedric) Squirewell would’ve scored a touchdown and (O.J.)Lennon would have had more than two yards on his one reception if Nick had dadgum blocked.”


MAC DADDY:James McDowell ran a fumble 12 yards for a score and the 6-foot-4, 300-pounder looked good doing it. So Bennett was asked if Mac Daddy would be running the ball, like William “the Refrigerator” Perry used to.

“Not at Catawba!” exclaimed Bennett. “We just want him to play defensive line.”

McDowell laughed and said he was trying to catch Khanis Hubbard, a sophomore, who has scored three touchdowns on fumble recoveries.


FINALLY: It took Derrick Stokes until he was a senior, but he finally latched on to his first reception as a Catawba Indian Saturday.

“He has always done a good job blocking,” said Bennett. “And he does a great job in the weight room. His upper body is unbelievable.”

Also catching the first pass of their careers were Brad Cline, Brian Flynn and Bret Brown.


POLLS:With No. 3 North Dakota’s loss to No. 2 Nebraska-Omaha, Catawba is third in the national polls.

Valdosta State (8-0) and Catawba are 1-2 in the South Region and the only undefeated teams left.


WHERE’STUSCULUM? What Bennett can’t understand is Tusculum’s standing in the national and regional polls.

The Pioneers are 6-1 and 3-1 but are ranked just 19th nationally and ninth in the region.

“To me, they ought to be ranked in the top 10 in the nation,” Bennett said. “And ninth in the region? C’mon. They’ve got one loss and they about had our rear end. And there are teams ahead of them with two losses. They ought to be top five in the region.”


TOUGHSCHEDULE: Catawba is facing the hardest part of its schedule. It visits Carson-Newman this Saturday, followed by home games with Mars Hill (Nov. 3)and Lenoir-Rhyne (Nov. 10).

A 16-game SAC winning streak will be on the line when Catawba goes to Jefferson City this week.


BUSES:There is still room on two fan buses that will make the trip to Carson-Newman for the 4 p.m. Homecoming game. Tickets are $25 per person. Call 637-4474 for details.


AROUNDTHESAC:Mars Hill keeps proving it’s a contender. Tim Clifton’s Lions held off Lenoir-Rhyne 20-17 to improve to 3-1, 6-2.

Presbyterian beat Wingate 41-19. Carson-Newman destroyed Newberry 43-17 in other games.

This week has Newberry at Tusculum, Wingate at Mars Hill and Presbyterian at Lenoir-Rhyne.


NOTES: Catawba won its 23rd straight regular season game Saturday ... Running back Marcus Bland has a low ankle sprain. ... Believe it or not, North Greenville has rushed for a net five yards in eight games. ... Against North Greenville, 13 different ballcarriers ran the ball, led by freshman Rodney Wallace with 70 yards on seven carries. Tony Hawkins and Mark Melvin had 64 and 62. Devan Hedrick ran for 54. ... T.J. Lawson scored his first career touchdown. ... Squirewell had three receptions, the 29th straight game he has caught a pass, a school record. ... Kicker Matt Gross had eight extra points and a field goal and is ranked fifth nationally. ... Catawba is still first in the nation in scoring defense at 5.8. ... Mike London’s preview on Carson-Newman will appear in Saturday’s Post.


Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4256 or .

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