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Southeast football: Opener presents challenge

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Southeast's first foe already knocked off a Division I-AA opponent

Southeast Missouri State football coach Tony Samuel is certain his team would have taken Quincy seriously regardless.

But Samuel said the Hawks' performance in their opener served as a good reminder for Southeast, which begins its season Thursday night against Quincy.

Quincy, an NAIA program from Quincy, Ill., stunned host Indiana State 26-20 in overtime last Thursday. The Hawks trailed 17-0 after one quarter.

Indiana State, like Southeast, competes in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA).

"I don't think our team would ever consider" taking Quincy lightly, Samuel said Monday during his weekly news conference. "But it's good from a coaching standpoint that Quincy won, to show they're no laughing matter."

Although Indiana State now has dropped 27 straight games for the nation's longest losing streak, the Sycamores still were expected to take care of Quincy.

Samuel was asked if the Hawks' victory, their first over an FCS opponent in nine tries, surprised him.

"Nothing surprises us in this world, the football world," Samuel said. "Every game is winnable or losable, depending on who shows up."

Samuel said he believed Quincy was a quality opponent even before beating Indiana State.

Quincy has had three straight winning seasons for the first time since it reinstated football in 1987, finishing 6-5 each year.

Additionally, Quincy has a massive offensive line that averages 320 pounds as the Hawks returned all five starters up front. Southeast's starting offensive line averages 298 pounds.

"Quincy is a good football team. They're well coached with a lot of returners," Samuel said. "They've got good lines, big receivers and a great little running back."

Sam Donatucci, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound sophomore, directs Quincy's spread attack, although the Hawks used four quarterbacks in the opener.

Donatucci, who passed for 2,067 yards last year, completed 12 of 27 passes for 111 yards against Indiana State and accounted for all three touchdowns.

Donatucci passed for one TD and scored twice. His 1-yard run with 43 seconds left sent the game to overtime. He then went over from a yard out for the only points of the extra period.

The running back Samuel referred to is 5-6, 180-pound Corey Williams, who rushed for 843 yards last year and was an all-Mid-States Football Association selection.

Williams gained 59 yards on nine carries against Indiana State. Samuel said he missed part of the contest with an injury.

"I'm sure he'll be ready for this game," Samuel said.

Samuel said Quincy's spread attack shouldn't pose any unusual problems for the Redhawks since so many teams employ that type of offense these days.

"It's so popular now, our defenses are almost set to that because that's what we see quite a bit," Samuel said.

Defensively, 285-pound junior tackle Corey Reidl anchors a line that averages 269 pounds (compared to 271 for the Redhawks).

Reidl led the 2008 Hawks with five sacks while recording 10.5 tackles for loss. He had five tackles and recovered a fumble against Indiana State.

After more than three weeks of practice, Samuel said the Redhawks are eager for their first game. He also believes they're ready.

"I'm anxious to get started," Samuel said. "All the hard work is for the games. That's the fun."

The Redhawks ultimately enjoyed their 2008 opener, although it was a struggle as they needed a late rally before beating Division II Southwest Baptist 35-28 in overtime.

Samuel would rather not have Thursday's game be quite as close, but he knows that's a possibility.

"They've got talent," he said. "They'll be a good team."

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