Reinhardt Eagles (0-0) at Point Skyhawks (0-0)
Ram Stadium, Valley, Alabama
Saturday, August 29, 2015
Kickoff at 12 noon EST
Written by: Kraig Doremus and Lauren Mullinax
The Reinhardt Eagles begin their third season of NAIA Football in the Mid-South Conference and look to continue to build upon the success of their first two seasons. The Eagles compiled a combined regular season record of twelve wins and eight losses, going 7-3 in Mid-South West Division play. There are changes at the helm for the Eagles this year. After nearly four years leading the Eagles, Dr. Danny Cronic stepped down as head coach in April, and son Drew, formerly the offensive coordinator, assumed the head coaching position.
The 2015 version of the Reinhardt Eagles are picked by the Mid-South coaches to finish tied for first place in the West Division. The Eagles received 21 first place votes, along with Campbellsville (KY) squad who shared the West Division title in 2014 with Faulkner (AL). In the nationwide top 25 poll, Reinhardt remains just outside the top 25, receiving three votes. The Eagles open their 2015 campaign on August 29th in Valley, Alabama against the Point University Skyhawks.
When the Eagles Have the Ball
This year, the Eagles will be led by running back L.J. Stegall, who was one yard short of 900 yards for his 2014 campaign. Stegall, a 5’9” junior from Hazelhurst, Georgia, averaged 89.9 yards per game and found the end zone on 12 different occasions. Stegall helped the Eagles earn a fourth place ranking in rushing yards per game among NAIA Division I schools. Signal caller Jonathon Chamblee will lead the air attack for the Eagles again this year. Chamblee, a junior out of Savannah Christian School, threw fourteen touchdown passes, compared to just six interceptions. He averaged 158 yards through the air and completed 62% of his passes.
As for the other side of the ball, Point’s defense will look to their senior linebackers, Jared Moyston and Albert Trammell to slow down the run game of Reinhardt. Moyston, the Woodbury, Georgia native, accounted for 49 tackles on the year, while his teammate, Trammell, picked up 56 tackles, with 35 of those being unassisted. While last year Point’s defense gave up a combined 367 points, new Head Coach Mike McCarty says that overall he is impressed with how much his defense has progressed
When the Skyhawks Have the Ball
Marcus Miller, reigning Mid-South conference freshman of the year, led the team with 58 tackles. 39 of Miller’s 58 tackles were solo. Additionally, the Skyhawks must stay away from D.J. Brown who led the Eagles with two interceptions each in 2014.
Offensively the Skyhawks are planning to have a solid year from their quarterback, Charles Fortis, all the way down to their punter, David Strickland. Fortis, a senior out of California, will return for his senior year looking to go out with a bang. Last year Fortis threw for 1,329 yards while throwing seven touchdowns on the season. Another one of Point’s strong offensive skills is going to be their run game. Both running backs from last year, Donald Hall and Ladarrius Mathis, will return and Coach McCarty says that he can already see improvement in each of their run games. Hall was Point’s main running back last year where he ran for 521 yards and averaged 4.5 yards per carry, while Mathis only carried for a total of 172 yards but averaged 6.6 yards per carry.
Two of Point’s biggest threats are going to come from punter David Strickland and punt/kickoff returner Brandon Robertson. Last year, Strickland punted 47 times and led the NAIA in punt average with 44.6 yards per punt. Due to his success, Strickland has gained national attention and has also sparked interest from pro scouts as well. Robertson, a sophomore who also plays wide receiver, was Point’s main return man for both punt and kickoff returns. The speedy Robertson was able to return three punts for touchdowns while also running back two kickoffs last year for the Skyhawks.
Keys to the Game
Look for Marcus Miller and his teammates on the defensive side of the ball to minimize the time of possession for the Point Skyhawks. Point went just 1-9 during the 2014 season and if Miller and company can keep the Skyhawks out of the endzone, the Eagles should flourish.
Reinhardt will need to utilize the rushing attack, giving the ball to Stegall and allowing him to find the gaps in the Skyhawks defense. Stegall averaged eight yards per carry in 2014 and should be able to continue his success against a Point defense that will be tested early and often in week 1.
Point will need to be able to contain the dangerous Reinhardt run game, as well as the Eagles efficient passing game. Third down stops for the Skyhawks will be huge if they plan to successfully keep Reinhardt within arm’s reach.
As for Reinhardt, they will have to be able to stop Brandon Robertson on both punt and kickoff returns. Robertson is speedy and a big threat with the ball in his hands and if Reinhardt makes the mistake of giving him an open hole on the punts and kickoffs it could be a long night for the Eagles.
As both the Eagles and the Skyhawks look to come out victorious on Saturday, it is a much anticipated game as the two are anxious to get the season underway. Kickoff is set to begin at 12:00pm on Saturday August 29, 2015 from Ram Stadium in Valley, Alabama. Prediction: Reinhardt 42 Point 10
The matchup between Point and Reinhardt will be the first game for both new head coaches Mike McCarty and Drew Cronic, respectively. Cronic, who previously served under his father Danny, will look to continue in his father’s footsteps while McCarty will look to start a new tradition of winning at Point.