Football Shows Progress In The Spring

BUENA VISTA, Va. The Southern Virginia Football team recently wrapped up its spring practice term, as they faced off against Radford Club in a spring scrimmage. Practice for the Knights started on Monday, March 22 and concluded on April 17th with a game-length scrimmage.  

SVU coaches saw tremendous progress from all the players, as they look to take last season's ending momentum into 2010. Head Coach, Delane Fitzgerald commented, “ Some of our players have come a long way from where they were last fall. Not just our rising sophomores, but our rising juniors and seniors have also showed great progress. We are throwing, catching, blocking, running, and tackling better than we ever did last fall, and when you do these things better, your team is going to be better. ”

 On the offensive side of the ball, the growth of three players in particular, Austin Phillips, Brandon Ostler, and Stephen Jensen, has stood out. Phillips, a wide receiver who saw limited playing time last year as a freshman, has emerged as a legitimate scoring threat. Phillips made several big plays in inter-squad scrimmages, including a 60-yard touchdown reception.  In Saturday’s scrimmage, Ostler rushed for just under 200 yards and recorded 3 touchdowns. Another bright spot from Saturday’s scrimmage was Dewayne Beamon, the newest member of the SVU football program finished Saturday with over 100 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns.  

Part of Ostler’s and Beamon’s success can be attributed to newcomer Stephen Jensen. Coaches asked Jensen, who just recently returned from an LDS mission, to make the difficult position change from guard to center. Jensen responded well to the challenge and improved daily. 

Several players on defense have also made significant strides.  Robbie Williams, a rising sophomore, has made arguably the most progress of any player on the team. Two other rising sophomores have become impact players on defense. Clark Steele, who was named first team all-conference last year, is successfully making the transition from defensive end to outside line backer. And Luke Herndon, a defensive lineman, has put constant pressure on the offense this spring. Herndon is emerging as one of the team leaders on defense.  

 Upperclassmen Ryan Chapman, Tommy Davidson, Brett Kassel, and Josh Hodges have shown constant improvement on defense. Kassel and Hodges played consistently well all spring, and in the scrimmage, Chapman snagged two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. All three provide leadership to a defensive unit that coaches describe as more intense and active than previous teams. On offense, junior Ryan McGinn has established himself as an invaluable player who contributes in many different ways from the H-Back position.  In Saturday’s scrimmage, McGinn laid key blocks that sprung Ostler into the open field; he also kept drives alive with his ability to catch and run the football.

SVU coaches all agreed that the team made great strides in the spring, and has shown great improvement heading into the summer off-season. Fitzgerald felt that the spring session could be a very promising indicator of the progress of the program, and that Southern Virginia football fans had a lot to be optimistic about heading towards the first game of the season on Aug. 26 against Concord.