Changes, New Faces Build Excitement for 2013 Cat-U Football
Mark Covert, Sports Editor
September 3, 2013
Filed under Sports
As the summer heat fades out and classes begin again, Catawba students know one thing for certain: football is also about to begin and for the first time in quite some time, there is genuine excitement surrounding the program. Head coach Curtis Walker, who was hired last December, has brought in a new cast of coaches and a recruiting class with players who could demand attention from the get-go. Add these fresh pieces to the returning players and you have a football team chomping at the bit to kick off the 2013 season this Saturday, as they battle West Liberty at Shuford Stadium.
On the offensive side of the ball, new offensive coordinator Kevin Brown has provided a new look on offense, bringing in a spread offense that will often line up with three or more wide receivers on the outside to open the running game up. University of Wisconsin transfer, Danny O’Brien, will direct the offense at quarterback, while senior Nate Charest and junior Taylor Fender will lead the wide receivers and offensive line, respectively. Sophomore Cary Littlejohn, junior Trey Mashore, and true freshman David Burgess will form a three-headed monster at runningback that will be a force to be reckoned with. With the amount of playmakers on this side of the ball, the plan is to open it up and take advantage of the defense’s major weaknesses.
On the defensive side, new defensive coordinator Keith Henry has brought in a 3-4 scheme (three down linemen and four linebackers) that will be looking to get pressure on the opposing offenses the Indians will face this season. Senior and preseason All-American LJ McCray and senior Jacob Hanes will look to lead a defense that will be without all-conference CJ Barksdale, who tore his ACL during camp. While this is a big loss, there are plenty of playmakers to make up for it, with LB Jason Taylor and DL Gabe Evans there to elevate the energy on defense.
Special teams wise, McCray will once again be the primary kick returner, as he is widely considered one of the best return men in the country. As for the kicking duties, Chad Hollandsworth returns to punt, placekick and kickoff and was also selected as a preseason all-conference selection at punter.
Excitement has been building around Salisbury for this football program since the end of spring football and the time is about here to see where this team is headed. If you speak to anyone within the Catawba community, they have faith and confidence in this year’s squad. On Saturday, it will all come together on the field for the first time against an opposing team and Cat-U football fans will finally see if this team is ready to take the next step.