Last Modified: Friday, August 08, 2014 12:43 PM
Last Halloween, Ray Woodard’s prospects of making it to another season at the helm of the Lamar program seemed as likely as poorly behaved teenagers making it to the end of a slasher movie.
Then came a November that gave Woodard all the reason in the world to give thanks over his end-of-month turkey.
The Cardinals made their first steps toward becoming a winner since reviving the football program in 2010, winning two of three to head into the season finale against McNeese State in position for their first .500 season since 1989.
A 16-yard Diontae Spencer touchdown run with 58 seconds left dashed those hopes as the Cowboys escaped Beaumont, Texas, with the 42-38 win.
But the end-of-season flourish created hope that the Cardinals are ready to take the next step and break into the Southland Conference’s upper tier this year.
“Last year we had a very good season from the standpoint that a lot of guys really started to click,” said wide receiver Reggie Begelton. “Obviously, the wins weren’t where we wanted them to be — and that is the primary goal — but we took huge steps forward last year. Offensively, we have a lot of guys coming back so we expect a lot more from ourselves this season. In the end, the individual records don’t matter — it’s the wins.”
Lamar should have one of the most explosive offenses in the league.
Senior quarterback Caleb Berry was named to the preseason all-conference second team after slinging 32 touchdown passes last year, and has his top running back and top three pass catchers at his disposal.
And they may have to rack up the points — defensively Lamar has a new coordinator taking over an inexperienced unit.
The Cardinals will have a chance to get that defense up to speed against a schedule softer than a baby’s bottom. With the exception of a visit to Texas A&M, Lamar’s nonconference schedule consists of winnable home games against Grambling State, Texas College (NAIA) and Mississippi College (Division II).
HICKEY’S PICK: 7-5, 4-4 in Southland.