After becoming the youngest program in college football history to reach a bowl game, the University of South Alabama (USA) is looking for even bigger achievements in 2015. The campaign kicks off Saturday when the Jaguars host Gardner-Webb.
The contest at Ladd-Peebles Stadium is set to start at 5 p.m. The action will be broadcast through the Internet on ESPN3.
“This is a competitive group, and I like that about them,” head coach Joey Jones, who is starting his sixth year, said of his team. “There are a lot of good things that come from that.
“They are ready to play somebody else. We’ve been going against each other for three weeks with the offense going against the defense in different situations, so they’ve been banging on each other a lot. It has been a very competitive environment, which I like, and hopefully we can bring that to the games,” Jones said.
The Jaguars finished 5-3 in the Sun Belt Conference (SBC) last season, which was good for a fourth-place tie. A 6-6 overall record earned them an invitation to the Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, where they lost a tough 33-28 decision to Bowling Green.
Of the 40 returning players to receive varsity letters, seven are starters. On the offense side of the ball are senior offensive lineman Chris May (6-5, 290), junior offensive lineman Joseph Scelfo (6-1, 295) and senior wide receiver Danny Woodson II (6-1, 215).
May and Scelfo were recently placed on the Rotary Lombardi Award watch list. Both have been selected to the All-SBC first-team preseason squad.
The leading running backs are Terrance Timmons (13 games, 75 carries for 403 yards, 4 touchdowns) and Xavier Johnson (12 games, 81 carries for 438 yards, 1 touchdown).
Hunter Vaughn played in six games at quarterback, completing 38 of 59 passes for 342 yards, 1 touchdown and 6 interceptions. However, University of Alabama at Birmingham transfer Cody Clements has won the starting job. In 11 games for the Blazers, Clements completed 183 or 275 attempts for 2,227 yards and 14 touchdowns.
The leading running backs are Terrance Timmons (13 games, 75 carries for 403 yards, 4 touchdowns) and Xavier Johnson (12 games, 81 carries for 438 yards, 1 touchdown). In addition to Woodson (13 games, 30 catches, 382 yards, 4 touchdowns), another key target is 6-foot-4, 240-pound senior tight end Braedon Bowman (11 games, 18 catches, 234 yards).
Two starters return on defense: 6-foot-2, 210-pound junior safety Roman Buchanan (13 games, 45 tackles, 29 assists, 3.5 TFL) and 5-foot-8, 195-pound senior cornerback Antonio Carter (12 games, 37 tackles, 17 assists, 1 TFL). The Jaguars have veterans on special teams in junior punter Brandon McKee (6-1, 190) and junior kicker Aleem Sunanon (5-7, 170).
Gardner-Webb University is located in Boiling Springs, North Carolina. The Runnin’ Bulldogs went 4-8 last season, and were winless in the Big South Conference. They return 53 lettermen, including 23 players who started at least one game.
● USA football will have expanded radio coverage this season. Five more stations have joined the network, bringing the total to eight. WMXC Lite Mix 99.9 FM in Mobile is again the flagship station. The new stations are WBMH 106.1 FM in Grove Hill/Jackson, WFMH 95.5 FM in Northwest Alabama, WOAM 104.9 in Dothan, WVRV 101.5 FM in Montgomery and WVRV 97.5 FM in Troy.
Back in the broadcast booth are J.D. Byars handling play-by-play and Pat Greenwood with analysis. Tommy Hicks — a former Lagniappe contributor — will be the new sideline reporter. J.T. Crabtree is back as the halftime host and engineer.
The pregame show for home contests is expanding to two hours. The first segment will be the “Coors Light Tailgate Party” in the Fan Fest area outside Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
MYC brings home silver trophy
For the first time in 60 years, the sailing team from the Mobile Yacht Club (MYC) captured the Junior Lipton Cup. The event for 19-foot Flying Scots took place the first weekend in August and was hosted by the Gulfport Yacht Club.
Light winds reduced the series to five races. Mobile won three and took second place in another. Pass Christian was second and Fairhope third. Fourteen clubs were represented.
The only other time MYC won the cup was in 1954. Ellis Ollinger Jr., a member of that team, was present to help the current sailors hoist the trophy.
Sharing duties as skipper were Matthew Godbold, Lennard Luiten and Crew Stanley. Crew members were Reed Carpenter, Collin Cooper, Georgia Huffstetter, Gus Thames and Maitland Thull. Sailors were required to be under age 19.
Luiten won the “Uncle Roy” trophy as the winning skipper in the final and deciding race. MYC, which also received a Junior Lipton banner to display, will host the regatta next summer.
World Series runner-up
The Alabama Rawdogs baseball team recently finished in second place at the Babe Ruth World Series tournament in Klamath Falls, Oregon. The team was composed of players ages 16 to 18.
The squad has won nine national titles under the tutelage of manager Tony Hendrix and coaches Chris Taylor and Brett Hendrix. The Rawdogs were denied a “three-peat” as they fell 3-0 in the title game to Columbia Basin, Washington.
Mobile players on the team are pitcher Tony Kucera, catcher Michael Farnell, second baseman Dayton Cook, third baseman Gunner Hendrix and utility player Randall Coxwell, who won the batting championship with a .529 average. Jordan Taylor was named to the all-defensive team.
SHC to host instructional baseball league
The Spring Hill College (SHC) Badgers will host a high school baseball league this fall for players in grades 10 through 12. Registration will be open through September 11 and may be completed online at www.shcbadgers.com under the tabs “Inside Athletics” and “Youth Camps and Clinics.”
The league will consist of four teams, with a maximum of 12 players per team. The cost is $120 per player.
Games will be played on Sundays beginning Sept. 20 at Stan Galle Field on the SHC campus. Games are scheduled for the next six weekends through Nov. 1. For more information, call 251-380-3069.