With its 35-14 win over Northwestern State, Central Arkansas became the first team in the country to clinch a berth into this year’s Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
It was also the first official Southland title for the Bears since moving into the league from Division II. UCA had the best record in the Southland in 2008, but did not qualify for the crown because they were in a transitional period.
“It’s we been amazing the last six years some of the milestones and benchmarks that have been reached,” said Bears coach Clint Conque. “Hopefully this team has some more football left in them, and hopefully we continue to maximize that potential.”
Northwestern State Bradley Dale Peveto was highly complimentary despite being on the wrong side of a trophy presentation.
“Bringing that place from Division II football from the FCS is just outstanding,” Peveto said. “They’ve done a very fantastic job, bottom line. It’s a beautiful place with a beautiful crowd, very big-time.”
• BEARKATS ROLLING: Sam Houston State showed it is not to be trifled with in a 70-0 pounding of Southeastern Louisiana.
“We played very well,” said master of understatement Willie Fritz. “We executed strongly offensively, defensively and in the kicking game.”
A no-huddle offense that was installed this spring is starting to jell.
“Going no-huddle slowed us down a little bit early,” Fritz paradoxically noted. “But now the kids have got a really good grasp.”
Sam Houston will clinch a share of its second-straight title if it beats Northwestern State this weekend, giving the Demons the unfortunate possibility of watching two straight trophy ceremonies.
• THE OTHER SIDE: It’s not a very good week to be a SLU Lion.
“We ran into a buzz saw there,” said SLU coach Ron Roberts. “They just dominate you physically from the get-go. We didn’t take care of the ball. You name it, it went wrong. The biggest thing is you’ve got to get over that. It’s an emotional beatdown when you get beat that bad.”
• SOMEBODY'S A WINNER: Neither Lamar nor Nicholls State has won a conference game this season. That will all change this Saturday when the struggling teams clash.
“They’re kind of like us. One of us is going to get our first conference win this week,” said Lamar coach Ray Woodard. “We’re excited about it and they are too.”
Woodard doesn’t think either team in the game is bad, per se.
“I think both teams have improved from last year. I think the problem is everyone in the Southland is improved,” Woodard said. “Both teams have made strides but we’re playing in a very tough league. You can’t hardly breath. It makes for tough games on Saturdays if you’re not playing well.”