Henderson State Reddies (0-0)
vs. Southern Nazarene (0-0)
Saturday, Arkadelphia, Carpenter-Haygood Stadium, 6 p.m.
Henderson State will begin its quest for a second Great American Conference championship as the Reddies kickoff their 106th season of football when they play host to Southern Nazarene. Henderson State enters the game ranked No. 13 in the AFCA Preseason Top 25 after finishing the 2012 regular-season 10-0 before losing in the playoffs to Missouri Western.
Henderson State returns 19 starters and 51 lettermen from last year. The Reddies led the nation in scoring in 2012 averaging 50.4 points per game.
The 2012 GAC Offensive Player of the Year Kevin Rodgers returns for his junior season. Rodgers eclipsed the 300-yard passing mark eight times a year ago and threw for 400 or more yards four times. The Rockwall, Texas product completed 271-of-409 passes for 4,002 yards and 41 touchdowns. All-American Robert Jordan leads a Reddie receiving corps that returns four players that had 300 or-more yards in 2012. Jordan led the GAC with 1074
yards on 65 catches and 10 touchdowns. Dustin Holland, also a First-Team All-GAC pick in 2012, was second on the team a year ago with 59 catches for 864 yards, while Darius Davis led the team in average yards per catch (19.3) while totaling 522 yards with 9 touchdowns.
Kevin Nichols returns for his senior season in the backfield. Nichols totaled 349 yards rushing and scored 13 times for the Reddies last season.
The Reddies will be led by two-time First-Team All-GAC linebacker Keaton Stigger and 2012 Freshman of the Year Tim Llewellyn. Stigger is considered by many to be one of the top linebackers in all of Division II and has a chance to play at the next level. The Collierville, Tenn. product totaled 103 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks last season. Llewellyn was fifth on the team in total tackles with 46 while having 3 tackles for lost yardage.
Junior Glennon Bobo returns after leading the team in tackles for lost yardage with 13.5. The lineman from Ashdown ended 2012 with 37 tackles.
About SoutherN Nazarene
Southern Nazarene begins its first full season as a member of the Great American Conference. Last season the Crimson Storm finished the year with a 2-9 overall record and was 0-6 against GAC opponents.
SNU quarterback Dylan Terry returns for his senior season. Last year, the Konowa, Okla. product completed 196-of-362 passes for 1,860 yards and 16 touchdowns. Terry was 27-of-47 for 177 yards against HSU in 2012.
Chris Hunter will handle the ground game for SNU. The sophomore from Shreveport, La. compiled 446 yards on 111 carries last season. Jarod Martin is SNU’s leading returning receiver having totaled 33 catches for 442 yards and three touchdowns.
Defensively, the Crimson Storm is led by linebacker Michael Hicks who is a preseason All-American selection by USA College Football. Hicks was an All-GAC honorable mention selection as a sophomore and recorded 90 tackles and five sacks before suffering a season-ending injury. He ranked second in the GAC in tackles per game at 10.0.
SNU is coached by Mike Cochran who is in his eighth season having a record of 40-36.
Henderson State totaled 564 yards of offense as the Reddies rolled to a 63- 21 win over Southern Nazarene. The Reddie offense had 384 yards through the air and 180 yards rushing, while the defense allowed just 265 yards, most coming in the fourth quarter. HSU took control of the game in the first half as quarterback Kevin Rodgers completed 19 of 25 passes for 306 yards and three touchdowns. The Reddies started things when Rodgers connected from 31 yards out to Labroderick Barnett with 9:55 left in the opening quarter.
Rodgers struck again on HSU’s next drive with a 6-yard pass to Dustin Holland, then the Rockwall, Texas native connected with Robert Jordan for a 40-yard score to give the Reddies a 21-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Henderson added a pair of rushing touchdowns in the second quarter as Kevin Nichols plunged in from a yard out, then Jarvis Smith scored on a 3- yard run as the Reddies took a 35-0 lead into the locker room. The Reddies added three more scores in the third quarter as Rodgers threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game, the second to Jordan from 25 yards out. Rodgers ended the game completing 22-of-30 passes for a career-best 360 yards and four touchdowns.
Season and Home Openers
Since Henderson State began playing football in 1895, the Reddies are 51-52-2 to open the season. The Reddies have opened the season at home only 11 times since 1981, having an 8-3 record including winning six of the last eight. The Reddies opened the 2012 season with a 63-12 win last year against Southern Nazarene.
Constructed in 1968, Carpenter-Haygood Stadium is in its 45th year as the home of the Reddies. First named Haygood Stadium in honor of Jimmy Haygood, the school’s head coach from 1907-1925, the 9,600 capacity, bowl-inclosed facility was renamed in April of 1990 to include the name of former coach Ralph “Sporty” Carpenter. Henderson State has a 27-16-1 record in
home openers at Carpenter-Haygood Stadium.
Saturday’s game against Southern Nazarene will be only the second time the two teams have met. The Reddies began the 2012 season with a 63-21 win over the Crimson Storm a year ago.
Home Sweet Home
Since Coach Scott Maxfield’s arrival, the Reddies have a 27-11 record at home including a 5-0 record in 2006 and 2010 at Carpenter-Haygood Stadium. HSU compiled three straight winning seasons at home from 2005 to 2007 before going 2-3 in 2008. In Maxfield’s eight years at Henderson, 2008 was the only season the Reddies failed to go .500 or better at home. In fact the Reddies have not lost three straight home games in any one season since 2004. Henderson State, then coached by Jesse Branch was 0-5 that season in games played at Carpenter-Haygood Stadium.
Looking for No. 50
Coach Scott Maxfield will attempt to be the third coach in HSU football history to collect 50 wins at HSU. Maxfield is currently tied with Jimmy Haygood who had a 49-52-9 record from 1907 to 1924. Only Sporty Carpenter and Duke Wells have more wins. Carpenter compiled a record of 119-76-5 from 1971 to 1989. Wells coached from 1941 to 1961 and had a record of 73-78-1.
The National Polls
Henderson State has caught the attention of coaches, media members and bloggers throughout the country. The Reddies enter the 2013 season ranked anywhere from No. 9 to No. 16. The Reddies, are ranked No. 9 in Lindy’s Preseason Top 25, while Beyond College Sports Network has Henderson at No. 11. D2Football.com released its poll a week ago and the Reddies are
No. 12, while the AFCA has Henderson at No. 13. Sporting News has Henderson at No. 16 in its preseason poll.
Reddies tabbed as GAC team to beat
Henderson State was the unanimous choice by the coaches of the GAC to repeat as football champions. The Reddies received 10 of the 11 possible first-place votes and 100 points total. Coaches were not permitted to vote on their own team. Southern Arkansas, which finished the season with an 8-3 record overall and 6-2 in league play, totaled 85 votes and is picked to finish as the league runner-up. Harding, which is coming off a second-place finish last year and a NCAA playoff appearance, was tabbed third, garnering 83 votes. Ouachita Baptist was fourth with 73 votes, followed by East Central (65), Southeastern Oklahoma (49), Southwestern Oklahoma (47), Arkansas Tech (37), Arkansas-Monticello (31), Northwestern Oklahoma (18) and Southern Nazarene (17).