Southeast Missouri State football team's offense shines early in first scrimmage

Sunday, August 14, 2011
Southeast Missouri State quarterback Trey Lewis carries the ball Saturday.

The offense dominated the defense in the early going during Southeast Missouri State's first scrimmage of preseason camp.

That was something of a mixed blessing for the defense, according to senior tackle Steve Hendry.

"You never like losing, but it's good to see the offense clicking," Hendry said.

The defense didn't actually lose because there was no scoring system in place, unlike during Southeast's annual spring game.

But Hendry did like the way the offense asserted itself, especially in the early going. He particularly was impressed with an offensive line that graduated four starters from last year's record-setting season, including two All-Americans.

Southeast Missouri State running back Levi Terrell scores during Saturday's scrimmage at Houck Stadium. (Fred Lynch)

"I think the offensive line is coming along," he said.

The defense wound up bouncing back nicely during Saturday afternoon's 90-minute session at Houck Stadium that featured plenty of 7-on-7 work in addition to the live scrimmaging.

"It obviously goes without saying we didn't start off too strong," said Hendry after the offense scored touchdowns on its first three series but was kept out of the end zone the rest of the way. "But I think we sucked it up and picked up the intensity."

Southeast fans aren't likely to soon forget tailback Henry Harris, who virtually rewrote the school's single-season rushing records list as a senior last year. But several backs were impressive Saturday.

Junior Renard Celestin, Southeast's top returning rusher among running backs, rambled for 100 yards on nine carries, an average of 11.1 yards per attempt.

Southeast Missouri State defensive lineman Steve Hendry (51) celebrates a tackle made by Frankie Davis, left, during Saturday's scrimmage at Houck Stadium. (Fred Lynch)

Celestin ripped off a 65-yard run for Southeast's second touchdown.

"I think we ran the ball pretty good," said Celestin, who gained 15 yards on four carries last year after recording 84 yards on 10 carries with a touchdown in 2009. "The line, every down they blocked good."

Redshirt freshman Lennies McFerren, who was on the first unit Saturday, picked up 55 yards on seven carries. He displayed an impressive spin move during a 33-yard run on the scrimmage's opening series.

"It went pretty good. The tempo was pretty high," McFerren said. "The competition [between the backs] is real good. We're all brothers. The line is all coming together as one."

Junior Levi Terrell, a transfer from Division II Nebraska-Omaha where he put up big numbers the past two seasons, gained 25 yards on seven carries. He scored on a 5-yard run.

Southeast Missouri State running back Renard Celestin looks for a hole behind the offensive line Saturday.

True freshman AJ Cobb added 29 yards on eight attempts. Redshirt freshman fullback Ron Coleman scored the other touchdown, on a 4-yard burst.

"We've got some good backs. We've got some kids who can run the ball," Southeast coach Tony Samuel said.

Of course running backs need a good offensive line to be effective and vice versa. The line is among many question marks for the Redhawks, but Samuel has been encouraged.

"They've showed us some things the last three days," Samuel said.

All-Ohio Valley Conference senior quarterback Matt Scheible completed 5 of 6 passes for 53 yards.

The Southeast Missouri State defense tackles running back Renard Celestin during Saturday's scrimmage.

True freshman quarterback Trey Lewis received plenty of playing time and was impressive.

Lewis, who ran a similar type offense at Sikeston High School last year, completed all four of his attempts for 45 yards.

Lewis, who like Scheible is well known for his running ability, had a 9-yard scamper but rushing yards by quarterbacks was hard to measure accurately since they were not allowed to be tackled. Plays were blown dead when a defender got close to the QB.

"He's making good progress," Samuel said about Lewis. "He's a real student of the game."

Senior Aaron King caught two passes for 42 yards to lead Southeast's receivers.

Samuel generally seemed pleased with Saturday's session although he said he'll know more after watching the film.

"We've got some guys out here who have not gotten a lot of reps, but you can see some execution," Samuel said. "We're rotating so many people. I want to see the film to see who was on the field at certain times."

Hendry led the defense with five tackles, including two for loss.

"It went pretty good," Hendry said about the scrimmage. "We've come a long way, but we still have a long way to go."

Noteworthy

* Senior offensive lineman Chris Duggins, who played in 11 games last season as a backup and was considered a strong candidate to start this year, is out indefinitely with an injury.

* Redshirt freshman quarterback Tyler Peoples, last year's backup although he never got in a game, did not participate in the scrimmage even though he apparently is not injured.

* Southeast will have its second and final scrimmage at 1 p.m. Saturday. That will mark the end of the Redhawks' two-week preseason camp. Classes begin Aug. 22.

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