COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: COAST GUARD FOOTBALL ALIVE AND WELL
BY ROCK HOFFMAN
Because the Army-Navy game is a highlight to every college football season those two institutions are well known to most people.
The Air Force Academy completes the triumvirate of service academies at the NCAA Division I FBS level and is also well known for having their fair share of success on the football field.
The Coast Guard Academy also plays football albeit at the Division III level.
However, they have the same requirement, just like their FBS big brothers, that attendees commit to five years of service following graduation. At the FBS level, the academies have among the smallest enrollment and the same is true of the Coast Guard.
The FBS schools are all in the bottom five in terms of enrollment at approximately 4,500 while the Coast Guard has about 1,000 students. They rank in the bottom 25 out of 242 Division III schools. Each year, the Coast Guard enrolls about 300 new students out of 5,000 applicants and unlike the larger academies there are no congressional appoints to the Coast Guard Academy.
As you can see, there’s not a large pool to select from when trying to build a football team but then one doesn’t usually go to a service academy if they’re looking for the easy way out.
In 2013, the Bears were 3-7 overall and 3-4 in the New England Football Conference (NEFC). While they didn’t miss any games because of the government shutdown last fall, it did have an impact on the Bears season.
The coaches, who also teach at the academy, stayed on the job but without civilian employees it was up to the coaches to do things like the team laundry. It’s hard to prepare for the next game when you are trying to figure out how much bleach to use.
It wasn’t all that long ago that the Bears were very successful on the field, in 2006 and 2007 they were 7-0 in division play and qualified for the NEFC’s Championship game but lost both times to Curry College.
Things appear to be headed in the right direction as they return 20 starters. The team did lose seven games but three of those losses were by seven points or less. Head coach Bill George, who is entering his 16th season at the helm, hopes going through some hard times will payoff.
“We are a growing and maturing team,” he said, “that will have more experience than we had last year.”
George will have ten starters back on defense and five of those were all-conference players last season while on offense quarterback Derek Victory is back for his sophomore year after being named Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2013.
“This offseason every guy has worked extremely hard and dedicated themselves to improving in every aspect of football,” said Coach George. “Everyone is looking forward to this season and you can sense the excitement the instant that we, as coaches, are around these guys.”
Caraun Reid, of Princeton, was the only player from one of the region’s schools to be selected in the recent NFL Draft. Reid, a defensive tackle who was a two-time All-American, was taken by the Detroit Lions in the fifth round with 158th overall pick. Princeton hasn’t had a player selected this high since Bob Hews was taken by the Kansas City Chiefs in the sixth round of the 1970 draft with 156th overall pick.
The only Tiger ever to go high by round was Charlie Gogolak who was taken in the first round, sixth overall, by the Washington Redskins.
Several area players were signed after the draft by NFL teams as free agents. Rakim Cox, a defensive end from Villanova, signed with the Minnesota Vikings. Cox had nine sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss and three blocked kicks for the Wildcats in 2013. Delaware had three players ink deals, defensive tackle Zach Kerr, who was an All-American last year, signed with the Indianapolis Colts. Offensive tackle Erle Ladson made a deal with the Oakland Raiders while cornerback Travis Hawkins is with the New England Patriots.
Six Temple Owls also signed free agent contracts. They were offensive lineman Cody Booth and defensive back Abdul Smith, who are both with the Chicago Bears. Tight end Chris Coyer signed with the Redskins. A pair of defensive linemen were signed, Levi Brown (Baltimore Ravens) and Kamal Johnson (Miami Dolphins) as was punter Paul Layton (Green Bay Packers). All six will try to emulate former Owl Rod Streater, who signed with the Raiders in 2010 as a free agent and is now a starting receiver.
“It doesn’t matter how you got there,” said Temple head coach Matt Rhule. “What matters is that you take advantage of the opportunity once you are there.”