Season Review: Football – A Season of Fresh Beginnings
December 5, 2013
The 2013 Catawba football season saw the Indians come into their own, with seniors, upperclassmen, and freshmen all making plays week in and week out as the Indians posted a 6-5 record. While the record looks fairly average, it is misleading to anyone who did not see Catawba battle this season.
Through the first two games, the offense had moved the ball effectively and the defense had been as suffocating as ever. Senior quarterback Danny O’Brien had been nearly flawless as he led the offense, and senior safety LJ McCray had led the defense to levels that had not been present in years. After a quick 2-0 start, the Indians were riding high into their first conference meeting of the year against Newberry. However, a 27-0 dubbing from the visiting Wolves in the pouring rain could have crippled Catawba for the reminder of the season.
The Indians then traveled west to the Tennessee mountains to face off with then #10 Carson-Newman in a matchup the Indians had lost 42-7 in 2012. Despite four turnovers and three missed PATs, Catawba was able to pull off one of the biggest upsets in the young D-II football season and one of the program’s biggest wins in recent memory. O’Brien was able to hook up with freshman receiver Carlos Tarrats in the final minutes and McCray was able to get enough of a piece of the potentially game-tying field goal attempt by the Eagles to cause it to sail right as time expired, sealing the upset for the Indians.
After losing their next three mostly close contests to the likes of Tusculum, Wingate, and then #1o UNC Pembroke, the Indians stood at 3-4. At this point in the season, any team could call it quits and just ride out the rest of the games without a care. However, this squad continued to fight, pulling off impressive victories against Brevard and Mars Hill, before heading to North Greenville in Week 10.
After under-performing for the first half and much of the third quarter, the Indians came storming back against the Crusaders, as freshman linebacker Montravius Evans returned an interception 38 yards for a score to give Catawba its first touchdown of the day. Redshirt freshman quarterback Mike Sheehan came into the game late to replace the injured O’Brien, and led the Indians into the endzone on his first possession. After the defense held North Greenville’s offense out of the end zone on three straight downs from the 1-yard line, Sheehan found junior tight end Tyler Hamilton for two huge gains to set up sophomore kicker Chad Hollandsworth for the game-winning 23-yard field goal as time ran out, giving Catawba the 20-17 win and its first winning season since the 2010 campaign.
While they finished at 6-5, the Indians could have easily have been 8-3 or 9-2. This was a season that gave a glimpse of what the very near future could turn into for Catawba football with head coach Curtis Walker. With many other of this season’s main contributors returning next year, Catawba could be a major force for the foreseeable future.