Add an OVC football title to the Redhawks' firsts

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Southeast Missouri State football team and its fans finally can focus their full attention on Jacksonville State.

And you can bet the Redhawks will have JSU's full attention, especially after what happened Saturday.

The Gamecocks no doubt will be stinging from their upset loss at Eastern Kentucky that denied them a chance at an outright Ohio Valley Conference championship.

The defeat also assured the Redhawks of being no worse than OVC co-champions, marking Southeast's first OVC title since joining the league in 1991.

That is just another first for the previously futile program.

The Redhawks (9-1, 7-0) would earn the OVC's automatic playoff berth by winning at Jacksonville State (8-1, 5-1) in Saturday's regular-season finale, although they virtually are assured of making the playoffs regardless of the outcome.

JSU ends its regular season Nov. 20 at Tennessee Tech. Even if Southeast loses to JSU, the Redhawks still could claim the outright OVC crown and automatic playoff berth if the Gamecocks fall at Tech.

Southeast put another notch in its belt Saturday, winning its ninth straight game by disposing of Division II Southwest Baptist 40-14 behind Henry Harris' record-setting 293-yard rushing performance on Senior Day at Houck Stadium.

The Redhawks tied the school record for wins in a season, matching the 1955 and 1937 squads that went 9-0. They also have the nation's longest active FCS winning streak.

Southeast, which never has made the playoffs -- not even in Division II -- likely will be an underdog at JSU despite the Gamecocks' loss.

That doesn't mean the Redhawks can't prevail in the hostile environment as they shoot for a school-record 10th win.

There should be a huge crowd at JSU's renovated, expanded Paul Snow Memorial Stadium -- which lists a capacity of 24,000 -- and I expect quite a few Southeast fans will make the long trip of approximately seven hours.

It should be a great game, and I'm looking forward to it.

Redhawks fans who want to attend the JSU contest but don't want to make the long drive have less than two days to sign up for the bus trip that Southeast is sponsoring.

The cost of the trip is $125 per person and includes ground transportation via charter bus to and from Jacksonville, Ala., double occupancy hotel accommodations at the Hampton Inn in Gadsden, Ala., and a ticket for the game.

Buses will leave from the Show Me Center north parking lot at 8 a.m. Friday. The group will return to Cape Girardeau immediately following the contest, which begins at 3 p.m.

The deadline to make reservations for the trip is 5 p.m. Tuesday. Payment is due at the time reservations are made. A minimum number of reservations must be made by the deadline date in order for the trip to take place.

For more information, call 651-2113 or 866-SEMO-TIK.

I incorrectly stated the number of sacks recorded this season by Southeast junior defensive end Steve Hendry in my coverage of the Southwest Baptist game.

Hendry, who recorded the Redhawks' lone sack Saturday, has three sacks.

Southeast men's basketball coach Dickey Nutt and his staff apparently have pulled off a couple of recruiting coups.

Southeast received verbal commitments from two highly regarded Memphis, Tenn., prep players over the past 10 days. Both had scholarship offers from quite a few major programs and are rated as three-star recruits on a five-star scale by

Nino Johnson, a 6-foot-8, 225-pound senior power forward at perennial national power White Station High School, recently was ranked the nation's No. 17 high school power forward by ESPN's college basketball recruiting website. It rated him as a four-star recruit on a five-star scale.

Johnson said among other schools that offered him scholarships were Auburn, Cincinnati, Charlotte, DePaul, Georgia Tech, Mississippi, Missouri State and Murray State.

Telvin Wilkerson, a 6-3, 190-pound shooting guard, plays for a Melrose High School squad that is among the nation's top-rated prep teams and features three top-100 national prospects.

Wilkerson said he received scholarship offers from the likes of Missouri, Iowa State, Nebraska and Penn State.

Verbal commitments are non-binding. The earliest either player can make it official is Wednesday as the NCAA's weeklong early signing period begins. They told me they plan to do just that.

Nutt is prohibited by NCAA regulations from commenting on prospective recuits until they sign.

Speaking of Southeast hoops, both Redhawks teams have one more exhibition game this week before opening the season.

The men tip off for real Saturday at Alabama-Birmingham, while the women get going Friday against Sam Houston State in the Mississippi tournament.

Both squads are picked to occupy the same spots in the OVC that they finished in a year ago, the men ninth in the 10-team league and the women last.

But before Southeast hoop fans get too depressed, preseason polls usually reflect where a team finished the previous year, so the Redhawks' projections are not surprising.

I don't have a strong enough opinion one way or the other about Southeast's women, but I'll be surprised if the men don't wind up at least a few spots better than ninth after they significantly upgraded their roster.

There will be a Southeast Missouri high school football game of the year rematch, as expected.

Central and Sikeston both steamrolled their first-round playoff opponents and will meet tonight. One of the biggest crowds to ever watch a game in Sikeston, Mo., is anticipated.

The first meeting between the teams, on Oct. 21 at Houck Stadium, saw the Bulldogs (11-0) dominate the Tigers (10-1) during a 21-0 victory that wasn't nearly as close as the score.

Central had less than 100 yards of offense while Sikeston piled up more than 400 yards.

It's hard for me to imagine Central reversing that type of domination, but that's the beauty of sports -- you just never know what's going to happen.

Marty Mishow is a sports writer for the Southeast Missourian.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: