Catawba football notebook: SAC title a real team effort

By Ronnie Gallagher, The Salisbury Post Why did Catawba make the Division II playoffs for the third straight season? A total team effort. Head coach David Bennett looked at the list of the weekly South Atlantic Conference players of the Week from the season and noticed that his league-leading defense had exactly zero named.Mars Hill had four. Carson-Newman had three and Tusculum had two. Wingate and Lenoir-Rhyne, which combined for two less wins than Catawba, had one each. But Bennett’s group, the top defense in the SAC and fifth-best in the nation, failed to scratch. Offensively, Catawba only have two weekly winners for a team that scored 336 points. And on special teams, despite having a kicker in Matt Gross, who booted more field goals than anyone, no special teams players from Catawba were named. “We don’t base our success on individuals,” Bennett understated. “It’s all about the team.” *** TEAM PLAYER: And then, there’s Cedric Squirewell, who didn’t make the all-conference team. But it didn’t matter. Bennett told the story of seeking out Squirewell, a junior receiver, to tell him he thought he should’ve made it.” “Cedric looked me right in the eye and said, ‘Coach, that’s OK. We won a ring. We won the team championship.” *** ONE MORE GAME: Shuford Stadium will stand for at least one more Saturday. Catawba officials are planning on tearing down the structure, which has stood since 1929, and replace it. “We hope it will hold up for one more game,” laughed Bennett. “It’s time to improve the facilities. There are a lot of people in this community who use Shuford Stadium.” The new stadium will keep the name “Shuford Stadium and Kirkland Field.” *** WELCOME BACK: Nine of 15 Catawba head coaches attended Saturday’s game and a ceremony which followed. Besides Bennett, others enjoying the win were J.D. Haglan, Bill Maudlin, Pete Stout, Steve Shaughnessy, Warren Klawiter, Harvey Stratton and Chub Richards. Bill Faircloth, who films for Wake Forest did not attend, but his wife did. “She sure is better looking that Coach Faircloth,” joked Bennett. “I think they’re all proud to be a part of something striving for excellence,” Bennett said. The coaches took shovels and participated in a ceremonial groundbreaking for the new stadium. More than 900 former players were invited to the game and several hundred showed. These included former greats Bob Lee, Tuck Gudger, Dwight Holshouser and M.L. Barnes. *** SUPER SENIORS: Catawba’s 13 seniors have compiled a current 37-8 record over their four years and have won two conference championships and made the NCAA II playoffs three times. *** MEANS WATCH: Nick Means can not only catch, he can think too. The Thomasville native was named this week as the 2001 SAC Scholar -Athlete. He carries a 3.48 GPA. He has been on the Dean’s List and President’s List as often as the all-conference list. “Nick has far exceeded our expectations when we signed him,” said Bennett. “Nick has an outstanding attitude and loves helping people. Nick is a winner and loved by all.” *** HARD HITTERS: Catawba’s senior linebackers had an outstanding day on Saturday. The trio combined for 28 tackles, four for losses, broke up a pass and blocked a field goal. Shawn McBride had a leading 14 tackles, while Darris Morris made a key block on a first quarter Lenoir-Rhyne 20-yard field goal try to keep the game scoreless. Shawn Sanders had five stops with one for a loss. *** NOTES: It was the seventh straight win for the Tribe over the Bears ... It marks the first back-to-back football championships for Catawba since the late 1940s ... The win also increased the Indians regular-season home win streak to 18 games ... The Tribe has won each of its last two first-round games, both at home.Catawba is 34-6 under coach Bennett in Shuford. ... Despite a young offense, Catawba fell just two points short of the season scoring record of 338 points ... Samples has thrown for over 1,300 yards, mostly in the final six games and has a rating of 152.2. He has 13 touchdowns with five interceptions ... Wallace broke the school’s freshman rushing record this season, pounding out 816 yards and scoring nine touchdowns ... He had three 100-plus-yard efforts and averaged over 100 yards a game over the last six outings ... Cedric Squirewell, who caught nine passes against Lenoir-Rhyne, shared the team lead in receptions with Nick Means ... Each had 36 catches, with Means leading with five scores. ... O.J. Lennon and Arnold Gaither each have four touchdown grabs ... Lenior-Rhyne’s Jameill Surratt finished his career with 2,828 yards after getting 173 against Catawba. ######

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