Redhawks' tenacity pays off with upset of TSU

Monday, October 27, 2008

I wrote last week that, even though it didn't result in a win, I was really impressed by the gritty, determined effort the Southeast Missouri State football team put together at perennial Ohio Valley Conference power Eastern Illinois.

The Redhawks fought the Panthers to the wire Oct. 18 before falling just short 24-21.

I also wrote that, no matter what the Redhawks' final record turns out to be this year, they've got plenty of heart.

Well, the Redhawks displayed more of that heart Saturday and it finally paid off to produce one of the program's biggest wins since moving to Division I-AA in 1991.

Southeast stunned Tennessee State -- ranked 19th nationally -- 27-20 in overtime to thrill a homecoming crowd at Houck Stadium.

I know some people mock the Southeast football program for its lack of success, but those coaches and players work just as hard as coaches and players at big-time programs that win most of the time.

It was good to see the Redhawks (3-5, 1-3 OVC) finally rewarded with a big-time victory -- no matter what the rest of the season holds.

Even though the wins haven't come as often as he would like during his two-plus seasons at Southeast, coach Tony Samuel keeps emphasizing that the Redhawks are getting closer to the top teams in the OVC.

Maybe Samuel is on to something.

The Redhawks are only 1-3 in the conference, but they aren't far off from being 3-1. They lost by two points to Tennessee Tech and by three points to Eastern Illinois.

With four games left in the season, it will be interesting to see if Southeast can build on Saturday's victory by closing strong or if the triumph only proves to be a blip in another down year record-wise for the Redhawks.

It won't count on the record, but in just a few days Southeast men's basketball fans will have their first opportunity to see how the Redhawks look so far under acting coach Zac Roman.

The Redhawks play their opening exhibition game Saturday when Missouri Baptist College from St. Louis visits the Show Me Center for a 7 p.m. tipoff.

Southeast's second and final exhibition tuneup will be Nov. 8 when MacMurray College from Jacksonville, Ill., comes to town.

After that the games count, starting with the Nov. 14 season opener at New Mexico. That begins a brutal stretch for the Redhawks, who also play at Kansas State and Iowa among their first four contests.

Of course, who knows when -- or if -- the Redhawks will have junior forward Calvin Williams.

Williams was suspended from the squad Saturday following his arrest on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance, driving without a license and driving without headlights.

Williams, a 6-foot-9 junior, is one of Southeast's top players and its only proven inside presence.

Needless to say, the Williams situation is the last thing an already-reeling program needed.

The Southeast women's basketball team for the third straight year will play just one exhibition game, Nov. 8 against Maryville University from St. Louis.

NCAA Division I men's and women's squads are allowed either two exhibition games or one exhibition contest and one game-type scrimmage that cannot be publicized and must be closed to the public and the media (I don't know the reasoning behind that, but it's NCAA regulations).

Southeast women's coach John Ishee has preferred the latter scenario since he took over the program, believing a scrimmage gives the Redhawks more of a chance to work on specific situations.

Although Southeast has not publicized its women's scrimmage -- per NCAA rules -- I do know that it's Saturday against Mineral Area College.

In the whole Southeast athletics mess that came down earlier this month, I felt especially bad for director of athletics Don Kaverman, who was fired after nearly 10 years on the job.

I had an excellent relationship with Kaverman over the past decade and I truly believe he's a good man who did his best to try to boost Southeast athletics.

I'm sure Kaverman will land on his feet. Here's wishing him and his family all the best.

Former Southeast football All-American Eugene Amano must be loving life these days.

Amano is the starting left guard for the Tennessee Titans, the NFL's lone unbeaten team and off to the best start in franchise history. They are 6-0 entering tonight's game against the Colts.

Amano, in his fifth season with the Titans, is a full-time starter for the first time, although he had made eight starts entering this year, including five in 2007.

Amano, who played several line positions at Southeast, entered this year having played in 63 of a possible 64 NFL games at either guard or center.

A familiar name in Southeast baseball circles apparently will suit up for the Redhawks starting with the 2010 season.

Cole Bieser, a senior at Valle Catholic High School in Ste. Genevieve, has given Southeast a verbal commitment. The outfielder plans to make it official Nov. 12 when the NCAA's week-long early signing period begins.

As a junior at Valle this past spring, Bieser batted .422 with 31 stolen bases to earn all-state honors.

Bieser is the son of former Southeast standout Steve Bieser, who finished up at the university in 1989 and later played in 60 major league games for the Mets and Pirates in 1997 and 1998.

Saturday promises to offer Southeast sports fans a little bit of everything.

The action starts in the morning when the OVC cross country meet is held at the Cape Girardeau Jaycee Municipal Golf Course. The men's race starts at 9 a.m., followed by the women's race at 9:45 a.m.

A short while later, Eastern Kentucky visits Houck Stadium for a 1 p.m. football kickoff against the Redhawks.

And not long after that game ends, the Southeast men's basketball team opens its exhibition schedule at 7 p.m. against Missouri Baptist.

If you take it all in, then you've certainly had a full day.

Marty Mishow is a sports writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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