Southeast football team hopes to right itself at home

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Southeast Missouri State football team hopes the comforts of home will help revive its season.

Southeast stumbled badly during its opening half of the campaign, going 1-5 while having four of its first six games away from Cape Girardeau.

Now the Redhawks will try to get well by playing four of their final five contests at Houck Stadium, beginning with this week's homecoming matchup against Austin Peay.

Saturday's 41-17 loss at Eastern Kentucky all but ended Southeast's chances of repeating as Ohio Valley Conference champion.

The Redhawks fell to 1-3 in league play.

Only twice since the OVC began football in 1948 has the winner finished with as many as two losses, let alone three.

But as I've written before, I didn't think it was realistic to expect the Redhawks to repeat. They simply lost too much talent from the squad that claimed the program's first OVC crown.

I did think it was realistic for the Redhawks to carve out another winning season -- something like 6-5 -- which would mark the program's first back-to-back winning records since moving up to the FCS level in 1991. That feat now appears next to impossible because it would require Southeast to win its final five games.

But there still is a chance for the Redhawks, who start only a handful of seniors, to finish the year strong and build some momentum for next season.

And then there was one -- as in one OVC football team without a loss in league play.

The undefeated group was sliced in half Saturday when suddenly hot Tennessee State beat host Tennessee Tech 42-40.

Jacksonville State is alone atop the standings at 4-0 after pounding host Austin Peay 44-14.

Tennessee Tech (3-1) and Eastern Kentucky (2-1) are right behind Jacksonville State. The other six OVC squads all have at least two conference losses, with Eastern Illinois (0-5) the only winless club.

The Southeast men's basketball program picked up what I think are a couple of nice verbal commitments last week from senior teammates at De Soto (Mo.) High School.

Jared White, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound combo guard, is a strong, physical player who also excels in football for the Dragons. I would expect him to come in next season and provide solid minutes right away, especially on the defensive end.

Colin Ferguson, a 6-10, 250-pound center, is more of a project, but I've been told he's got potential and could develop into an impact player. I wouldn't be surprised if he redshirts next year, although you never know.

Missouri State, Western Kentucky and Troy also showed interest in White. Ferguson drew attention from SIU and Murray State. All are programs that have had considerably more success than Southeast in recent years. For them to be interested in White and Ferguson tells me both players have a chance to be solid in the OVC.

The early signing period begins Nov. 9.

The Show Me Center is getting a much-needed new court this season. It is expected to be in place before the first game.

Southeast men's coach Dickey Nutt said it will be an important addition to both programs because the current court is old and has plenty of dead spots.

Nutt praised Southeast president Ken Dobbins for making it happen after Nutt mentioned to Dobbins how much a new court was needed.

The OVC recently announced its slate of games across ESPN platforms for the 2011-12 men's basketball season. The schedule consists of 10 games, seven regular season and three in the OVC tournament.

Southeast isn't included in the four pre-determined regular-season televised matchups, but there is a chance the Redhawks will appear on TV before the league tournament.

The regular-season TV schedule will include three wild card selections that will feature teams selected 21 days before the contest.

The wild card dates are Jan. 21, Feb. 2 and Feb. 23. The wild card format helps insure the most competitive games featuring the teams at the top of the standings are selected for telecast.

Regular-season TV matchups are Austin Peay at Morehead State (Dec. 31), Murray State at Austin Peay (Jan. 7), Tennessee Tech at Murray State (Jan. 14) and Tennessee Tech at Morehead State (Jan. 28).

Nine of the 10 TV games are on ESPNU, the exception being an OVC tournament semifinal on the internet platform ESPN3.

Marty Mishow is a sports writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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