Preseason prepares RiverHawk football for take over
TNE Editor

Preseason prepares RiverHawk football for take over

Published 08/28/17

Valeriia Efimenko

TNE Writer

August marks the end of summer vacation, the beginning of a new school year, reuniting with college friends again and an exciting time for football fans. The first college game is right around the corner. It has been a long offseason, but the RiverHawks are ready for the season opener Thursday night.  

“I am really excited to see what we can do this first game,” said Josh Lattimer, NSU football defensive coordinator and linebacker coach. “The guys are hungry and want to prove the MIAA wrong for our performances in the past; prove that they belong here, that they are here to play.”

It is Lattimer’s fourth year of coaching at NSU, and he thinks it looks like it is the best team they have had so far. The team lost a big class last year. Twenty-six seniors graduated, but 53 new players were brought in for this season.

“We signed 28 guys with scholarships,” said Lattimer. “All of them are young, which is a good thing because they are hungry and they are playing hard trying their best.”

The team had a productive preseason fall camp, which took place two weeks before school started. Consistency is key to success in every sport, and coaches know that golden rule. The RiverHawks spent every day on the field, working and improving their skills and absorbing knowledge from coaches.

“Fall camp went really well, and the guys improved tremendously”, said Dane Simoneau, NSU football offensive coordinator and quarterback coach. “We want to be physical. That is the biggest coaching point. We were pretty young last year, but we are a year older, a year more mature this season. We got better in the spring and carried it over in the summer. I think we have a better grasp in the offense. We have to stay healthy. That is the biggest thing. Also, last year we lacked a little in football intelligence, but we tried to build that on in the spring and during the camp, and I feel like we are in a better position right now. We need to play smarter, and that is what we are preaching.”

The football players themselves think the camp was an ideal way for them to get in a better shape and get prepared for the season.

“Fall camp plays a big part for the season,” said Jalen Porter, senior linebacker from Longview, Texas. “Most players do not come in shape, so coach Fleetwood, our strength and conditioning coach, was with us all fall camp. We have conditioned nearly every day of camp, and he has gotten us in a great physical shape.”

Despite the team losing a big number of seniors last year, there are still some returning players who have already experienced the RiverHawk football life and who are assuming leadership roles this season.

“We have a really talented freshman class and quite a few of them will be playing this season,” said Lane Yoder, sophomore outside linebacker from Adair. “I try to help them out by making sure they do everything right in all the drills we do and also in the weight room. I feel like I am a good leader. I do not say much, but I work hard, try to do my best in everything, and I feel like it motivates the young guys to push themselves too.”

Simoneau thinks they have very good leaders on the team who get the guys going, motivate the freshman class, help them to stay positive and preach working hard at every drill they do. The goals are set and the players are ready, willing and able to achieve them, prove their hard work and show their dedication.

“We are trying to create turnovers; we need to get the ball in the offense’s hands as much as possible,” said Lattimer. “As a defense, one of our goals is to get three or more turnovers a game, 10 or more tackles for loss, and that is something we have really preached over the spring and fall camp. We are like starving street dogs after raw meat. That is how we are going to play. We are here to play, and we are here to deserve the win.”

RiverHawk football will have 11 games this season. Six of them are home games on Gable Field at Doc Wadley Stadium. The first game NSU will face the Ichabods of Washburn University.

“Washburn’s team is a very good team,” said Simoneau. “They didn’t really lose much, and they are going to be a tough team, very big and physical, but it’s all about whoever makes less mistakes win the game. So, we have to play smarter. We are kind of tired of beating each other up on the practice field, so we are ready to go hit someone else. We are going to take one game at a time.”

Before the game starts, there is a tailgate between the NSU Event Center and the football stadium where students can socialize with free food and games. The tailgate starts three hours before the game at 4 p.m.

The season opener is at 7 p.m., Aug. 31 on Gable Field at Doc Wadley Stadium.

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