RiverHawks football prepares for fall season
TNE Editor

RiverHawks football prepares for fall season

4/27/8

Austin Headlee

TNE Writer

The RiverHawks football team is gearing up for the season opener in fall. The team has participated in 15 practices over the spring semester before starting training camp in the summer. The team will be looking to improve from their past four seasons where they have won a total of six games.

The RiverHawks will be looking to find players who can replace the production from the seniors who have left the program. La’More Wise, senior linebacker from St. Louis, led the MIAA conference with five forced fumbles, led the team with 125 tackles and registered six and a half tackles for a loss during the 2017 season.

The RiverHawks also lost some senior leaders at offensive skill positions. Gary McKnight Jr., senior receiver from Lawton, led the team with 1029 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. Zac King, senior receiver from Vinita, had the second-most receiving yards with 448 yards. Ra’Keim Abdul, senior running back from Overland Park, Kan., led the team in rushing yards and recorded a touchdown in his senior year.

The RiverHawks will be looking to find suitors from the skill positions and linebacker core, but the team will be bringing back Cade Yeager, freshman quarterback from Broken Arrow, as the starter for next season. Yeager led the team with 1716 passing yards and 18 touchdowns while throwing only 12 interceptions in his seven played games.

“We lost a good group of guys who graduated. We’re really going to miss the leadership of those guys, a couple of them were second-team all-conference players,” said Rob Robinson, RiverHawks football head coach. “Our younger guys got to see how those guys prepared and saw the benefits of it. Cade Yeager is going to be a sophomore and it’s important for the quarterback to be the guy who pushes guys forward. This league is a quarterback-driven league.”

The RiverHawks are expected to center their offense around Yeager in the 2018 season. The team must focus on protecting Yeager for the offense to score. The team needs the offensive line to step up and give the quarterback time to orchestrate the offense.

“We want to have some core guys protecting Yeager,” said Dane Simoneau, RiverHawks offensive coordinator. “We have some guys who are only juniors, but they’re going to be three-year starters and those players are going to be pushing guys this summer.”

The RiverHawks will lead behind Yeager for the offensive side of the ball but must find players who will thrive on the defensive side. The team is expected to play multiple defensive fronts, so the players must be able to adapt and rotate out when needed. Eric Gibson, RiverHawks defensive coordinator, is entering his first season as a coach at NSU. Gibson previously coached at Southwestern Oklahoma State University.

“There’s a bunch of quality players,” said Gibson. “We have some corners that can do some good work. Linebacker wise starting spot is kind of open, but we have some returning players who have done some good things. On the defensive line we have some huge additions.”

The 2018 football season looks bright for the RiverHawks behind Yeager as the returning starter. Gibson is expected to rejuvenate the defense and produce more stops on that side of the ball. The team expects to improve from their 1-10 record during the 2017 season. The team opens the season against the Emporia State University Hornets on Thursday, August 30, at NSU’s Doc Wadley Stadium.


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