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EAGLE NOTES: Boren leads Eagles into his second season at the helm

Contributed by admin on Aug 21, 2015 - 05:27 PM
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Faulkner head football coach Charlie Boren, entering his second season at the helm of the program, is admittedly a bit more comfortable in his skin. His Eagles were ranked No. 10 in the NAIA pre-season poll released this week, and he realizes such a lofty ranking brings with it equally high expectations.

Faulkner has won the Mid-South Conference West Division title each of the past two seasons, earning playoff berths both years. Finishing 9-3 in 2013 and 2014, coupled with visits to the post-season, have altered the goals for a program that struggled to take flight in its early years. Entering its ninth year of intercollegiate competition, Faulkner looks to take the next step, according to its head man.

"Four years ago nobody really knew about us," said Boren, whose team has completed workouts in shorts and helmets and will begin practicing in full pads Wednesday afternoon. The success we've had the past two seasons, as well as our first winning season three years ago, have raised the level of awareness of our program.  We've been tickled to make the playoffs the past two seasons, but the feeling around here is that's not good enough now.

"We want to earn our way back there this season, and if we don't have success once there in some ways we'd all be disappointed. We want players in this program who feel that way – who set the bar high and work hard to get there."

For Faulkner, who will be starting a new quarterback for the third straight season, there is a feel of confidence in fall camp, according to Boren. Battling for the job are a trio of talented players - senior David Cochran, who finished the2014 season as the starter after an injury to All-MSC performer Terrell Robinson, sophomore Lane Moss and redshirt freshman Clayton Nicholas, who transferred in from Bowling Green University.

Whoever earns the starting role will be playing behind what could be the Eagles' best offensive line in the program's history. Back are starters Raymond BusbyJacob CarterElliott Graves and B.J. Turner, and add to that group a pair of Jacksonville State transfers in Caleb Gulledge and Tristan Hardin and there's reason for optimism up front.

"We feel like both lines of scrimmage could be our strength, if we can stay away from the injury bug," Boren said. "I know our quarterbacks and our running backs are pleased with the guys at the point of attack."

Joe Jones, the MSC's offensive freshman of the year in 2014, returns at running back after posting 711 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. Boren says the Buford, Ga., native from North Gwinnett High School has trimmed down a bit and added muscle in the off-season, both of which he says will benefit him this fall. Backup tailback Trent Miles also returns for the Eagles.

"Anytime you get that year under your belt and kind of know what to expect it's huge, and that's where Joe is right now," Boren said. "He's worked hard since spring, and we look for big, big things from him this season. I think he feels really good about the guys he's going to be running behind too. We have depth up there, which means we'll be able to keep guys fresh and that should benefit Joe and Trent in the ground game."

Jones not only looks different, he says he feels different – physically and from a leadership standpoint.

"I feel really good this year, totally different than I did coming in as a freshman," Jones said. "I know that even though I'm just a sophomore, I'll need to help some of the younger players get acclimated, just like others did that for me last year. Over the summer I got my mind right and I'm in the best shape of my life and I'm faster, so I'm excited what this season could bring for us. I think it could be a very good year. I'm very excited about our line, and I feel the holes are going to be there for all of our running backs."

As far as team expectations, Jones agrees with his coach. Making the playoffs is one of the goals, but it's not the ultimate goal.

"We expect a lot from this team," he said. "We're working as hard as we possibly can, so we can be in position to take that next step nationally."

Faulkner opens its season in Lakeland, Fla., on Sept. 5 against Southeastern University. The game against the Fire is scheduled for a 6 p.m. central time start.


EAGLE NOTES: Defense should be a strength for Faulkner in '15

Contributed by admin on Aug 21, 2015 - 05:28 PM
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. – For the past four years, through the exploits of talented quarterbacks Josh Hollingsworth and Terrell Robinson, the Faulkner football program developed a reputation for building its success on the offensive side of the ball.

Defensively things were a challenge at times, with the Eagles getting into frequent scoring shootouts with their Mid-South Conference opponents. There was steady improvement from year to year, but head coach Charlie Boren senses a big change heading into the 2015 season. And he can't help but smile when thinking of the possibilities.

"I think one reason I expect things to be dramatically different has been our recruiting," Boren said. "We placed a heavy emphasis last spring and this summer on filling some spots on defense and we feel we've brought in some guys who are really going to help us."

Three of those players will help anchor the defensive line – Anthony Smith, a 6-0, 330-pound transfer from Texas Tech,Sean Watson, a 6-3, 285-pound transfer from Jacksonville State and Karsmann Johnson, a 6-3, 265-pound transfer from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.

"Up front, where it starts on the defensive side of the ball, this is probably the best group this program's ever had," Boren said. "We were talking the other day with some people who have seen the growth over the nine years of our program, and most feel potentially this could be the best. We've had some great defensive linemen, but collectively we think this one could separate itself."

Caleb Taylor and Ray Smith are back to shore up the inside linebacker position, and a newcomer to the secondary could prove to be special according to Boren. Quan Latham, a 5-10, 185-pound cornerback from East Mississippi Community College, has also raised the bar on the back end.

"He brings a talent level that we just haven't had back there," Boren said. "To be honest, our receivers – and we have some good ones – can't get him off of them. He's going to be a lockdown guy for us back there. It basically cuts the field in half, and allows us to play man and not be forced to do something special to try and stop another team's top receiver.

"He's a good kid too. His head is on straight and he's a leader."

Taylor was second on the team in tackles last season with 78 total stops, and is the leading returning tackler. He had six tackles for loss and a pair of sacks on the year.

The new-look Faulkner defense has been bolstered by the hiring of a couple of new coaches – defensive coordinator Cam Clark, who was an Eagles' assistant for three years between 2008-2010, returns to Faulkner after having spent the last two seasons as a defensive graduate assistant at Auburn, and Marcus White, who was a member of the Texas Tech staff a year ago.

"Cam and Marcus have done a great job designing a system that fits our talent, and then having those connections in recruiting to go out and find the guys who can come in and complement our system," Boren said. "They work closely together. Both have tremendous backgrounds, and it's really made things exciting for us on that side of the ball."

Faulkner, which has made back-to-back trips to the NAIA playoffs, begins its season on Sept. 5 against Southeastern in Lakeland, Fla. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. CST.


Transfer QB Nicholas shines in Faulkner's first scrimmage

Contributed by admin on Aug 24, 2015 - 11:35 PM
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Just two weeks away from its season opener, the Faulkner football team showed improvement in its first scrimmage of the fall here Saturday morning at Billy D. Hilyer Stadium, according to Eagles head coach Charlie Boren.

Boren and his staff continue to work on fine-tuning both sides of the ball as Faulkner readies itself for another run at a Mid-South Conference West Division title.

"I was pleased with how things went today," said Boren, whose Eagles have won back-to-back division championships and have earned a berth in the past two 16-team NAIA Football Championship Series. "It gave us a good opportunity to do a double check on some things, and I like where we are right now."

One player that stood out to Boren in Saturday's scrimmage was freshman transfer quarterback Clayton Nicholas, who came to Faulkner from Bowling Green. The 6-3, 220-pounder from Abilene, Texas, was 12-of-17 on the day with two touchdown passes. Also battling for the job is Lane Moss, a 6-4, 220-pound sophomore from Gordo. He was 7 for 11 passing with no touchdowns Saturday.

"I thought both quarterbacks threw it well, but Clayton threw it extremely well," Boren said. "I think both guys have the ability to succeed and give us a chance to win a lot of games."

Nicholas says he has been adjusting well to the new system.

"I've got great coaches behind me helping me get into the offense in a short period of time," he sad. "Coming from this style of offense in high school and in college has allowed me to make a good transition."

Nicholas arrived on campus Aug. 1, and he and Moss have been putting in extra time to get ready.

 "We stay after practice sometimes and throw extra routes," he said. "We've got a lot of guys that give 100 percent effort every play so we can get our timing down during practice."

The chemistry the offense has built was evident in the scrimmage. In addition to the quarterbacks, running back Joe Jones had six carries for 75 yards, while wideouts Rob Lockhart and A.J. Stevenson each had touchdown catches.

"For the most part, we had a patchwork offensive line today, and I thought they did a pretty good job up front," Boren said. "Joe ran it well, and Trent Miles did as well."

The explosive offense coupled with what could potentially be one of the best defenses ever at Faulkner has expectations high

"Everyone's goal as a team is to get to the national championship, but we have to play it game-by-game and week-by-week," Nicholas said. "And when our first game finally gets here we'll all be amped up for it and ready to go."

Faulkner opens its season in Lakeland, Fla., on Sept. 5 against Southeastern University. The game is scheduled to kickoff at 6 p.m. central time.