Catawba football notebook: Sanders, Morris top defenders

By Ronnie Gallagher, The Salisbury Post Was there any doubt that Shawn Sanders and Darris Morris would be named Catawba College’s defensive players of the week after a 37-0 win over Austin Peay? Not to head coach David Bennett. He knew of the game plan that coordinator Curtis Walker, defensive line coach Jimmy Tomsula and secondary coach Bob Lancaster had put together. “We felt our outside linebackers would get the chance to have a big day,” said Bennett. In case you’ve been living in a cave for the past four years, Sanders and Morris are senior linebackers. Sanders had three solo hits, two assists, 1 12 sacks, forced a fumble, broke up a pass and had two pressures. Morris contributed two tackles, two sacks, a pressure, a quarterback knockdown, a pass breakup and recovered a fumble. A pretty good day’s work. “(Sanders)is just steady,” Bennett praised. “He’s there every week. He’s somebody we’ve counted on since he was a true freshman. And we’re glad to see D-Mo come on in his senior year.” *** MIGHTY DEFENSE:The linebackers helped Catawba record its fifth skunking in the last two seasons. It is the third time since 1996 that Catawba has opened with two shutouts. In two games, the defense has recorded nine sacks and caused 11 turnovers. Twenty-seven of the opponents’ 92 plays have gone for losses. Opponents have yet to reach the Catawba 20. *** WINS: The win was also the 16th straight regular season victory for the Indians. *** A RECORD: For the second straight week, senior kicker Matt Gross set a school record. His 13 points gave him 243, breaking the career mark of Randy Brown. *** MORE RECORDS: Cedric Squirewell caught four passes against Austin Peay, the 24th straight game he has latched on to a ball. That is a school record. *** HE’S SPECIAL: Marcus Hicks was named special teams player of the week after three tackles, two inside the 20 on kickoffs. *** HE’S MORE SPECIAL:Hicks’ performance wasn’t close to Week 1, however, when true freshman Maurice Simpkins recorded six tackles on kickoffs against Livingstone. “Six tackles on special teams — that’s never been done in all my years of coaching,” Bennett said. Simpkins came from the same high school that produced Morris. Bennett remembers an early encounter. “I patted Simpkins on the leg and thought, ‘Good gracious, that boy has hamhock thighs on him,’” Bennett said. “We recruited him as a safety but thought he could grow into a linebacker.” *** RODZILLA: That’s the nickname for true freshman running back Rodney Wallace, a four-time high school wrestling champ. “We’re trying to get him to make some cuts,” Bennett said. “He just wants to run over people.” Wallace is one of several good backs that Bennett likes. “He’s probably bigger than Mike Tyson,” said Bennett. “I wouldn’t want to mess with Rodney Wallace in a dark alley, I’ll guarantee you that.” *** MORE BACKS:Bennett also uses Tony Hawkins, who led all rushers with 76 yards on eight carries, Marcus Bland, Mark Melvin and Devan Hedrick. “The other guys better watch out for Hedrick,” Bennett warned of his redshirt freshman from North Davidson. “He’s coming in the back door. He has great vision and the other guys are still working on their vision.” Hedrick averaged nine yards per carry against Austin Peay. *** INJURIES: Jemonte Battle, a sophomore defensive back, played with a broken hand. Wallace has a stinger in his shoulder. *** REMEMBER ME? A familiar face has come back to Catawba: Adam Horton. The East Rowan star was a Shrine Bowl MVP before going to Appalachian State as a tight end. He then transferred to Catawba and is a defensive linemen after growing to 270 pounds. *** SAC REPORT: Last week’s winners include Tusculum, which beat Tennessee-Martin, a Division I-AA school 27-16; Lenoir-Rhyne beat West Virginia Wesleyan 55-28; Presbyterian beat Charleston Southern 19-10; Wingate beat Virginia Union 13-12; Mars Hill toppled Virginia-Wise 14-10, and Newberry rolled to a 41-0 win over North Greenville. *** THIS WEEK:Besides Catawba’s visit to Wingate, Carson-Newman hosts Western Oregon, Newberry goes to Mars Hill and Stillman is at Tusculum. *** GOTTA TELL IT:A game with Austin Peay (pronounced Pea) can’t be played without the greatest college joke of all time. Back in the early 70s, the basketball Governors had the leading scorer in the nation. His name was Fly Williams. The sports information office was touting Williams for All-American honors this way: The Fly is open. Watch Austin Peay. *** NOTES: Danny Jenkins punted for a 42-yard average and a net of 37. ... Against Austin Peay, Gross attempted five field goals. ... Bennett praised quarterback Scott Sensing and the offense. For the second straight week, Catawba had no turnovers. “You gotta give Scott credit,” he said. “He has been steady and that’s all we’re asking of him. He still hasn’t played his best game.” ... In seven years, Bennett’s record is 54-15. He is the school record holder for winning percentage at .783. ... Mike London’s report on Wingate will appear in Saturday’s Post.

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