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Chargers Tabbed Ninth in GPAC Coaches' Poll

Contributed by admin on Aug 21, 2015 - 04:11 PM
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The 16th Annual GPAC Football Media Day was held this afternoon at the Marina Inn in downtown South Sioux City, Nebraska.  The event included team breakdowns from each of the league's 10 head coaches as well as the release of both the 2015 GPAC Preseason Coaches' Poll and the GPAC Preseason Media Poll.  After going 2-9 (2-7) a season ago, the Chargers of eighth-year head coachTom Rethman were picked to finish ninth in both the coaches' poll and in the media poll. 

GPAC Coaches' Preseason Poll:

1. Morningside 81 (9)
2. Northwestern 73 (1)
3. Doane 65
4. Dakota Wesleyan 51
5. Hastings 48
6. Concordia 46
7. Nebraska Wesleyan 33
8. Midland 24
9. Briar Cliff 20
10. Dordt 9

GPAC Media Preseason Poll:

1. Morningside 90 (9)
2. Northwestern 80
3. Doane 70     
4. Hastings 56
5. Dakota Wesleyan 52
6. Concordia 45
7. Nebraska Wesleyan 39
8. Midland 30
9. Briar Cliff 22
10. Dordt 11

Rethman addressed the crowd while his returning players checked in on campus.  He noted that his returning players give him a lot to be excited about. "We have a great group of players coming back and everyone is excited for the upcoming season," said Rethman. "We had young players who went through growing pains last year but are expected to be better and greatly contribute this season." While the Chargers will soon be getting after it on the practice field, their season-opener is still a few weeks away (Aug. 29).  Kick-off that day against the Saints of Presentation is set for 1 p.m. at the DakotaDome.

SCJ: Quarterback Battle Key in Charger Camp

Contributed by admin on Aug 21, 2015 - 04:13 PM
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Briar Cliff knew there was going to be a quarterback competition, just not this one.

The Chargers figured on returning senior Kevin Van Egdom for a fourth year while adding some new arms to the roster to push him. One torn labrum for Van Egdom later and those plans shifted.

Van Egdom is now playing H-back while junior Matt Quick, the backup last season, and a pair of transfers in junior Dylan Desmarais (Shasta College in California) and sophomore Chance Barlow(Oklahoma Panhandle State University) are now in a competition to take a lot more snaps than they may have expected this season.

"We are fortunate in the fact that we have three guys that can go and play in this league and to what level we are going to find out," Rethman said. "Dylan, if we played today, is the starter and the thing he has provided is he has been steady. He has very good pocket awareness, he is steady, he can run when he needs to."

Desmarais said he likes the offense that Briar Cliff runs and it gives him a chance to lead and improvise a little if needed.

"I have a chance to call my own plays, make the reads and that is a big thing," he said. "We just need to make sure we are doing our jobs, keep practicing like we are doing and stay sound in everything we do.

"For me it has always been a week in, week out thing. If you are starting (and) you are kind of lacking during the week they can switch out and have other quarterbacks that can do things."

Van Egdom threw for 2,043 yards, 15 touchdowns and 15 interceptions last season playing in 11 games as a junior. His sophomore season, his second after transferring from Missouri State, saw him pass for 2,054 yards and 16 touchdowns. The severity of the injury and how it would impact him was not fully known to Rethman until the first week of August.

"I was definitely surprised (about Van Egdom) because I found out watching GPAC media day online and I got a text from my dad actually," said Chance Barlow, who is also in the competition to start. "It was news to me, but I am just going to prepare going up against anybody. I am just a competitor."

There is competition between the three quarterbacks but seemingly no animosity.

"Both of those guys are great guys and we come out here and compete every day," Quick said. "One of us has to come out here and take the spot. Whoever gets it done is going to be great at the helm."

Rethman said Demarais has done a good job of reading the defense and getting rid of the ball quickly, something that is key in the Charger system.

Quick, who said morale is the best he has seen in his four years in the program, appeared in three games last season and was 5 of 12 passing.

Rethman called Barlow a bit of a wild card just because he has been dealing with a hamstring injury but noted the strength of his arm. Barlow does have the best speed of the trio of quarterbacks and his ability to make things happen is appealing to his coach.

The starting quarterback will be leading a team that is coming off a 2-9 season and returning six starters on offense and four on defense.

Rethman, who is in his eighth year, has traditionally favored picking his quarterback and going with him, but he did acknowledge this time it could be different.

"This is a year you could probably see more than one quarterback out of us," he said. "That becomes our job to make sure we find ways to utilize their talent.

"I think sometimes when you have two guys that are just a little different or one guy who throws a little different wrinkle you have a possibility of being able of some things going well."

Whichever quarterback ends up taking the most snaps will have a veteran receiving corps to throw to in Lavon WrightTyler McGheeFred Fields and Miles Jones.

"Having guys like that it is easy throwing to them," Desmarais said. "You throw a little five yard route and they can make it look spectacular. Make 80 yards out of nothing."

Add to that the hard running of senior Mitch Heikes, who just missed 1,000 yards a season ago, and there seems to be plenty of weapons at the quarterback's disposal.

"I think our skill group looks good," said Quick, who wore Superman cleats to media day on Thursday. "I think we have some of the best skill in the GPAC and if we can get them the ball out in space I think they will run."

The Chargers open up the 2015 season Saturday when they host Presentation College at 1 p.m. in the DakotaDome in Vermillion, S.D. It is the third year Briar Cliff has played its home games there.

Story by Jeff Budlong from the Sioux City Journal.  Find more media day coverage by following the links below...

JOURNAL: Reyes Ready for Return to the Cliff

Contributed by admin on Aug 21, 2015 - 04:14 PM
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Andre Reyes is no armchair quarterback. He would much rather be playing football.

Two years after leading Briar Cliff in tackles he was forced to sit on his couch and watch last season's Charger home games streaming over the internet.

"It was nerve-racking man," the senior inside linebacker said. "I just wanted to see them do good, and I know how much work them boys put in because I was with them the year before. I just wanted to see them do good and wish I was out there to contribute.

"Getting the chance to play in spring ball, it was relieving to be back out there."

After taking time off to work, Reyes is glad to be back on the field.

"It means the world to me because I missed last season and watched my teammates online," he said. "So I was getting reacquainted with the team during spring ball and really got the opportunity to know each other better."

Reyes led the Chargers with 103 tackles – setting the school record --in 2013 which included 4-1/2 tackles for loss. He may need to repeat those kinds of numbers with Briar Cliff having to replace its top four tacklers off  last year's squad.

Defensive back Johnathan Carter is the team's leading returning tackler with 62 tackles.

"As a group we always work on tackling, we always work on fundamentals," Reyes said.

Briar Cliff Coach Tom Rethman is certainly glad to have another difference-maker on the defensive side of the ball.

"It is nice to bring back a guy that set the tackle record the year before," he said. "I think (erasing mistakes) is something that Andre is able to do with his speed. He is able to cover up maybe some mistakes in some areas.

"Inside linebacker was an area of concern and up the middle was an area of concern, but I think we are going to have a very good defensive front."

There will be plenty of youth for the Chargers on the defensive side of the ball, but Reyes has been impressed with the talent and attitude of the younger players.

"(Sophomore) Nate Ericson, a safety, I have played with a lot of good safeties as you know like Steven (Trujillo) and Kenny (Hanes), and this guy is really stepping up," Reyes said. "He flies around, makes plays, causes turnovers. I am really excited."

Reyes, who is one of two linebackers making calls for the defense this season, is focusing on leading, something he wasn't asked to do two years ago.

"My only focus is for me to stay healthy and to lead these guys and help the younger guys," he said. "I always led by example, but now I can get more vocal with some of the guys. I believe all 11 guys out there lead in their own way. It is working out well."

"I think he is a little more hungry even though he has always had a great motor," Rethman said. "Absence makes the heart grow fonder. To have to be away from football for a year definitely increased his fire and burn for the game."

The Briar Cliff defense will also be anchored by Tyler Dean as the junior racked up 12 tackles for loss and led the team with 6-1/2 sacks.

Story by Jeff Budlong from the Sioux City Journal.