By BEN JOHNSON
Word spread quickly Saturday that Northeastern State was having a football scrimmage at Doc Wadley Stadium. It was slated to be a test run for all the Greek students, trying out their tailgating settings and finding out what improvements need to be made before NSU kicks off its football season in a matter of weeks.
After the grills were extinguished, NSU students made their way inside the stadium to witness the happenings on Gable Field. And so did other communities members.
“The Greek groups from campus made a point that they wanted to be supportive,” NSU head coach Kenny Evans said. “I was excited about them being there.”
It certainly wasn’t an Alabama or Tennessee-type setting, where thousands upon thousands fill the stands. But there was roughly 500 people in attendance, much more than in recent memory.
“They were practicing, too,” Evans said of the Greek students tailgating. “And it was great to see others come out, too. Hopefully they realize there are more good things to come.”
Cornerback Vernon Jones provided the first highlight of the night, stepping in front of wide receiver Tank Richmond and taking Thor Long’s pass 65 yards for a touchdown.
Running back Joel Rockmore followed that up with a 35-yard touchdown run, despite having his playing time curtailed. Evans said that was the goal to try and get other ball carriers more time on the field.
Also limited during the intrasquad event was left tackle Ethan James and safety Victor Johnson. James twisted a ankle and watched from a trainer’s table. Johnson also was nursing a nagging injury, but his was a bit more peculiar.
“All summer he had been working out without his knee brace,” Evans said. “He put it on for practice and it caused a bruise. With a bruised lower leg, he felt limited and we felt he didn’t need to scrimmage as much as the young guys."
Taking Johnson’s place was Darrain Winston and Marquintin Grant.
As expected, NSU will have another tough schedule in 2013. On Monday, the American Football Coaches Association released its preseason Division II poll.
Six of NSU’s opponents were either in the top 25 or receiving votes: Northwest Missouri State (No. 3), Missouri Western (No. 6), Pittsburg State (No. 21), Emporia State (receiving votes), Washburn (receiving votes), Central Missouri (receiving votes).
The RiverHawks will open the season at Pittsburg State on Sept. 7.
AFCA Division II Coaches poll
Rank 2012 Points
1. Valdosta State (26) 12-2 766
2. Minn. St-Mankato (3) 13-1 726
3. West Texas A&M (1) 12-3 707
4. NW Missouri St. (1) 10-3 616
5. Winston-Salem (NC) 14-1 599
6. Mo. Western 12-2 586
7. Shippensburg (Pa.) 11-2 559
8. Colo. St.-Pueblo 12-1 522
9. Ashland (Ohio) 11-1 506
10. Indiana (Pa.) (1) 12-2 416
11. Minn.-Duluth 10-2 410
12. New Haven (Conn.) 10-1 407
13. Henderson St. (Ark.) 10-1 371
14. Grand Valley St. (Mich.) 8-3 361
15. Midwestern St. (Texas) 9-2 319
16. West Alabama 9-4 297
17. Carson-Newman (Tenn.) 9-3 290
18. Bloomsburg (Pa.) 10-2 227
19. Indianapolis 10-3 212
20. Chadron St. (Neb.) 9-3 195
21. Pittsburg St. (Kan.) 7-3 165
22. Saginaw Valley St. (Mich.) 8-3 141
23. Lenior-Rhyne (N.C.) 9-3 140
24. Tuskegee (Ala.) 10-2 124
25. Shepherd (W.V.) 8-3 108
Others Receiving Votes: Harding (Ark.), 106; Winona St. (Minn.), 77; Albany St. (Ga.), 51; North Alabama, 39; Michigan Tech, 38; Central Washington, 34; Central Missouri, 31; St. Cloud State (Minn.), 30; Delta St. (Miss.), 26; American International (Mass.), 21; Charleston (W.Va.), 21; Ferris St. (Mich.), 21; Emporia St. (Kan.), 20; West Chester (Pa.), 20; Hillsdale (Mich.), 14; Miles (Ala.), 14; Colorado School of Mines, 11; Elizabeth City St. (N.C.), 11; Mercyhurst (Pa.), 11; Washburn (Kan.), 8; Ohio Dominican, 6; Fort Valley St. (Ga.), 4; Tarleton St. (Texas), 3; California (Pa.), 2; Missouri S&T, 2; New Mexico Highlands, 2; North Carolina-Pembroke, 2; Southern Arkansas, 2; Texas A&M-Kingsville, 2; Wayne St. (Mich.), 1.
* First place votes are in parentheses