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CIAA North looks stronger on paper, but...
 
Published Saturday, August 19, 2017
by Bonitta Best

For all the talk the past two seasons about the CIAA North being the tougher of the two divisions, where are the trophies sitting? Not in the North but in the South, on Winston-Salem State’s shelf.

Virginia State is the only Northern team to win a football championship (2014) in the last 15 years – not counting the cancelled game in 2013, of course. The Trojans are definitely a favorite, but before the season gets started, let’s look at some question marks in the division.

1. Will/can Lincoln (Pa.) win more than three games in a season? No, the Lions are not – repeat not – going to win the division, but their dismal records since 2008 have been a drag on the league as a whole. The NCAA looks at strength of conference as well as individual strength of schedule.

Fourteen total wins in eight years is just pitiful. I do not understand why schools are so diehard on having a football program but won’t give it the funds to compete. What is the point?

2. Is this Tim Place’s last…oh, never mind. I’m going to leave coach alone. Obviously, he has the support of Chowan’s higher-ups, and as long as he keeps the Hawks in contention, that must be enough. And, who knows, maybe one day the breakthrough will come.

3. Can James and Taylor mend their relationship? Something went on between Virginia Union coach Mark James and AD Joe Taylor despite Taylor’s denials to the contrary.

Rumor had it James was cleaning out his office after last season before the decision was reversed. Will the players rally around James, or is this just the beginning of the end?

4. Are the Vikings back? Coach Earnest Wilson II gave Elizabeth City State some rejuvenation in his first season. The Vikings win over Morehouse made folks do a double take considering the Maroon Tigers have such a strong program.

Wilson still has a tough sell with ECSU fans. An 0-4 record in its last four title games will put the damper on any party. Just getting to the ‘ship is not enough anymore. Just ask…

5. Bowie State. With four runner-up appearances since 2005, the Bulldogs have become the Vikings. The biggest difference is ECSU does have one championship in program history (1971), while Bowie has none.

Can the Bulldogs make a third straight appearance? If they do, will the pressure to win it all be too much to bear? And after two straight failed outings, will anybody from Bowie show up?

6. Trojan man! Not that Trojan, but Reggie Barlow is the man at VSU. Fans have been giddy ever since he took over, and last season was a good start for the newcomer. That win over the SIAC’s Tuskegee, which advanced to the playoffs, is still being talked about. Expectations can sometimes be a little ridiculous. Some thought the Trojans would go undefeated last season. Instead they lost by one point to Bowie and by 21 to the Rams. But last year is last year. VSU has all the makings of a breakout season and the juice to end the Rams’ dominance. Can they do it?

I’m betting they will.

 

 

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