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Preparation for first football season begins

Contributed by admin on Aug 18, 2015 - 11:40 PM
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BATESVILLE, Ark. – There was a sense of great anticipation in the air on Thursday as Lyon College head coachKirk Kelley and his staff welcomed 94 players to training camp as the Scots began preparations for the College's first football season since 1951.

With the brand new 22,000-square foot Lyon Football Training Center towering next to the Scots' practice field and a crowd of nearly 100 on hand, the squad took to the gridiron Thursday evening for the first organized practice of the season as the team now sets its sights on the August 29 inaugural season opener against 24th-ranked Tabor College at Pioneer Stadium (1 p.m.) in Batesville.

"Today went really smooth," said Kelley after the workout, with a broad smile on his face and sweat dripping from his chin in the humid Arkansas evening. "I feel really good about how the kids came into camp and what we got done today.

"The first thing we did was challenge the upper classmen to take a position of responsibility and leadership as redshirt freshmen. And they did just that, as they led the newcomers who came in and made sure everybody was where they needed to be."

The Scots will take part in the 2015 Lyon Football Media day on Friday at 3:30 p.m. in the Training Center, meeting with fans and media for the first time this season. The public is invited to come by and meet the players and coaches, as well.

Lyon players will get back to work as the coaching staff installs offensive and defensive game plans for the upcoming season. Fans are invited out to workouts at the Lyon practice field and to Pioneer Stadium at Batesville High School on Friday, August 14, at 5 p.m. as the Scots go through a game-type intrasquad scrimmage. There will be no admission charge to the public.

Kelley said his staff is planning a progression as the team works toward the season opener.

"In the coming days we're going to be installing game plans on both sides of the ball," he stated. "We want to get back to where we were in the spring by the end of about eight days. We'll be installing everything we do. That means we'll be spending a lot of time in the classroom, we'll have walk-throughs and we'll be out here on the field getting things done."

The public will get a chance to ask Kelley questions about the upcoming season on Monday, Aug. 24, when the first CoachKirk Kelley Show is held at U.S. Pizza at 60 Batesville Blvd. in Batesville. The show, which begins at 6 p.m., will take place each Monday night. Fans can enjoy great food and listen as Kelley is interviewed by Mark Lamberth, part of the "Voice of the Scots".

All 2015 Lyon football games will be broadcast this season on 93.1-FM KZLE. Home games will be also streamed live on the internet on on a pay-per-view basis. Lamberth and Randy "Big Daddy" Alan will anchor broadcasts.

Season ($25) and single-game tickets ($5) for the 2015 season are on sale at the Lyon Athletics Department offices, located next to Becknell Gymnasium on the campus. Lyon faculty, staff and students will be admitted to the home games for free, but must pick up a ticket prior to each game.

Lyon will compete this season as a member of the Central States Football League.

Friday, Aug. 7 - Practice (helmets and shorts), 9:30 a.m.
Friday, Aug. 7 - Football Media Day, 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 8 - Practice (helmets and shorts), 9:30 a.m.
Sunday, Aug. 9 - Practice (helmets and shells), 2:30 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 10 - Practice (helmets and shells), 3 p.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 11 - Practice (full pads), 9 a.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 12 - Practice, TBD
Friday, Aug. 14 - Intrasquad Scrimmage (game-type situations), at Pioneer Stadium, 5 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 29 - Season Opener vs. 24th-ranked Tabor College, at Pioneer Stadium, 1 p.m..

Scots face tough challenge in CSFL race

Contributed by admin on Aug 18, 2015 - 11:42 PM
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FRISCO, Texas – No. 19-ranked Langston University was voted as the top team in the 2015 Central States Football League (CSFL) preseason poll, which marks the third consecutive season the Lions have been favored as the No. 1 team in the league's preseason poll. Langston received a total of 60 votes, including 12 first place votes. The poll is comprised of the league's coaches and sports information directors.

Lyon College, which is playing its first intercollegiate games since 1951, and Arizona Christian University will be both full members of the CSFL for the first time. ACU started its football program a year ago, but joins Lyon as a newcomer this season.

Langston was eight points ahead of second-ranked Southwestern Assemblies of God University (Tex.), who received 52 total points and a pair of first place votes. Bacone College sewed up third place with 37 points, as only one point separated Arizona Christian University and Wayland Baptist University (Tex.), who finished in fourth and fifth place, respectively. Lyon College (Ark.) received 19 points to rank them in the sixth spot and Texas College rounded out the poll as the number seven team with 17 points. 

During the 2015 season, seven teams will compete for the CSFL title, including three teams from Texas, two schools from Oklahoma and one university out of Arizona. The CSFL is comprised of Arizona Christian University, Bacone College, Langston University, Lyon College (Ark.), Southwestern Assemblies of God University (Tex.), Wayland Baptist University (Tex.), and Texas College.

Lyon will play three nationally-ranked teams this season, starting the year with a pair of home games against No. 24 Tabor College (Aug. 29, 1 p.m.) and No. 7 Lindsey Wilson College (Sept. 5, 1 p.m.). The Scots open CSFL play on October 3 at home against Bacone College at 2 p.m.

2015 CSFL Preseason Poll

Rank. School Points (1st pl. votes)
1. Langston University (Okla.)

60 (12)

2. Southwest Assemblies of God (Texas) 52 (2)
3. Bacone College (Okla.) 37
4. Arizona Christian University (Ariz.) 34
5. Wayland Baptist University (Texas) 33
6. Lyon College (Ark.) 19
7. Texas College (Texas) 17

Lyon defense shoring up for challenges of '15

Contributed by admin on Aug 18, 2015 - 11:43 PM
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BATESVILLE, Ark. – To say the 2015 season is one of unknowns for the Lyon College football team is a direct and true statement. With half of its 90-player roster returning from last season's non-intercollegiate competition season and a schedule that includes three nationally-ranked squads, the Scots will find out a lot about themselves this fall.

Defensively, Lyon head coach Kirk Kelley knew what kind of goals he wanted his team to achieve, so he brought in someone who had experienced the best when he hired Defensive Coordinator and outside linebackers coachMike DuFrane (pictured at right).

DuFrane's credentials are about as good as they come in the NAIA. He is a former member of a NCAA Division III National Championship team at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, playing at nose tackle for the title team in 2007. He also helped the Warhawks to a runner-up finish in 2008.

The Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Defensive Newcomer of the Year in '07 graduated from UW-W in 2009 and then earned his Master's degree from Carthage College. He has coaching stints at NCAA Division III institutions University of Minnesota-Morris, Loras and Carthage before coming to Lyon last season.

DuFrane said he and his defensive staff used last year to built incoming freshmen to a bigger, better and stronger class in preparation for the 2015 season.

"Last year I saw a lot of guys who were willing to learn and willing to adapt," DuFrane stated. "We spent last year building and teaching them and we want them to continue to grow. I want to see guys to get better in the weight room and on the field. If they get better physically and they continue to want to grow it will help us move forward."

The coach said he wants to continue to teach his red-shirt freshmen and true freshmen some of the things he learned while playing on the championship-caliber team at UW-W.

"What we're trying to do right now is to instill in our defense the ability to compete," he explained. "Every single day when I was (at UW-W) we competed. We did it on every snap of the football. Everything we did there had some element of that.

"Here at Lyon, our depth chart is fluid. It has the opportunity to change every single day. No one's job is safe. I think that's pushing our guys to improve and work harder every day."

He added that the tough academic acceptance requirements at Lyon is a positive thing because it enables the Lyon staff to recruit players who do a great job at learning the system and understanding what the coaches are trying to teach them.

"The kids that come here are very smart, so the ability to each them the advanced defense that we play is easier because they have the ability to learn it," he said. "They want to learn and they want to be here and it's made our job easier in that respect."

In the fall of 2014 the Scots when through a simulated season as far as practice, but played only two intra-squad scrimmages. DuFrane said he wants his returning players to learn from that experience and teach the incoming players what to expect and to help them get 'up to speed' on what the returners learned a year ago.

"I definitely expect the returners to lead this team. Guys like Carr Hill (6-0, 200-lb. LB from (Cherokee Village, Ark.) and Xavier Story (5-9, 170-lb. DB from Bushnell, Fla.) and others who are coming back are the ones I'm looking to by the leaders of this program. Everybody that was out there last year has come in and is showing the new guys their roles and doing things to help them understand me and the program and what I want to get accomplished.

DuFrane said at this point the Scot cornerbacks are the players of his defense that are taking the leading role as the team works in training camp and prepares for the August 29 inaugural game against 22nd-ranked Tabor College at Pioneer Stadium (1 p.m.).

"I think we're very good at the cornerback position. We bring some very solid athletes into the season at those positions. So I think they'll be the guys that we'll want to turn to and will help lead us to go in the direction we want to go. And when your corners are good, that makes it a lot easier when you start looking for other areas to move forward."

The Scots will follow their tough season opener with their highest-ranked opponent on September 5 when the Scots battle 7th-ranked Lindsey Wilson College at 1 p.m. This home game will be another early gauge of how the team is improving.

"We built our schedule as an opportunity to see what we want to become," DuFrane said. "It gives us the chance to go out and compete against some of the best competition in the country. Our whole program is about getting better and moving forward and I think when you go against programs like Tabor and Lindsey Wilson it will give us the opportunity to see and play against the best and only get better."

With every season come unknowns. This year the Scots will have more of them than most squads as they bring players together from all across the country to build the program.

"I think our biggest unknown will be our ability to adjust and the ability to grow," the coach said. ""Having such a young team scares you, as a coach, at times. But it's exciting because you've got a bunch of guys who haven't done it before (on the collegiate level). So when we get out there our guys need to embrace it and run with it. That's the thing that going to help us get better and better as we go."

Lyon, which will host an intra-squad scrimmage on Friday (August 14) at 5 p.m. at Pioneer Stadium, will compete in the Central States Football League this fall, opening up league play on October 3 at home against Bacone College (2 p.m.). The Scots will play six home games this season. General admission season tickets are available for only $25 by calling (870) 307-7525.

Lyon offense to benefit from former Pioneers, local talent

Contributed by admin on Aug 20, 2015 - 09:55 PM
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BATESVILLE, Ark. – The Lyon College offensive unit might be wearing navy or white jerseys this season, but there will be some deep-rooted orange and black as well. Seven former Batesville Pioneers are on the Scots football team this season, with six of them playing on the offensive side of the ball.

There will also be two Southside offensive players and another from nearby Midland High School and a defensive back from Cave City, rounding out the local talent.

The Scots will be looking to those area players to ignite the squad when Lyon plays its first football game since 1951 on August 29 against 22nd-ranked Tabor College at 1 p.m. Coincidentally, the Scot home games will all be played at Batesville High School's Pioneer Stadium.

General admission tickets will be available at the gate and can be purchased for $5 by calling (870) 307-7525. All Lyon home games will be streamed live on the internet ($7.95) on and aired free on local radio station KZLE-FM (93.1).

Garett Denton (FR/Batesville, Ark.), a former Pioneer, was the first Lyon player signed to the current 88-player roster prior to last season. He and 72 others began work under the tutelage of Kirk Kelley as he and his staff began building the squad. The Scots went through a year of preparation to get ready for this year's initial season of intercollegiate competition.

"I think last year helped us a lot," said Denton, a tight end on the Lyon squad. "The college game is definitely a bigger, faster game and we're going to find out that on August 29 when we take the field against Tabor. Then we'll have another challenge (on September 5) against (7th-ranked) Lindsey Wilson.

"This is a big step for all of us, but I think all the guys that are here from last year's team and the new guys coming in this fall are going to meet the challenge. It's going to be great to see this team to come out after 50-plus years (without football at the college) and have the community behind us and see what we can do at home against two ranked teams to start the season."

Other Batesville players that will be battling for spots on the Lyon offense include tight end Jonathan Hendrix(FR/Batesville, Ark.), wide receiver Joel Caraway (FR/Batesville, Ark.), offensive linemen Khang Nguyen (FR/Batesville, Ark.), Jeff Fox, and Johnathan Howard (FR/Batesville, Ark.). Another former Pioneer, Osvaldo Espericueta(FR/Batesville, Ark.) (pictured at left), will be the Lyon place kicker, and has a powerful leg.

Other local talent battling for starting spots includes Southside fullback Raymond Gill (FR/Batesville, Ark.) and wide receiver Lucas Branscum (FR/Batesville, Ark.), along with Midland running back Timothy Altom (FR/Midland, Ark.), and Cave City defensive back Cobie Robinson (FR/Cave City, Ark.).

Denton said having last year's redshirt season helped him and the other freshmen get used to college life, not to mention the opportunity to get better prepared for this coming season against seasoned squads.

"I think the academics were the hardest thing to get used to last year," Denton explained. "I came in and knew it was going to be hard, but you really don't know how hard it's going to be, compared to high school, until you endure that first year. I had teammates to look up to and friends that I made the first semester that showed me how to study and where to go to get help when I needed it.

"On the field, it really helped to have that year. A lot of people would like to just go to (college) and play games, but when you're a true freshman playing against juniors and seniors, you have to prepare yourself. I know we all want to win, but you need to prepare yourself for those upper classmen we'll be going up against.

"I've really enjoyed how we've gotten bigger, faster and stronger over the last year and it has helped us get ready for August 29."

Looking at this year's team, Denton said the Scots are going to have some talented players behind them in skill positions. "We've got a lot of talented players here. Mike Bowles (transfer from Arkansas Baptist College) is back from last year. He came here and is really a great runner. James (Davis, from Baton, Rouge, La.) was on the wrestling team last year and is now playing football. He knows what to do in the backfield after playing high school ball, and will help us a lot. And there are seven other guys back there that have done a great job so far."

Denton said his familiarity with Lyon offensive line coach Ryan Morrow will be a big plus. Morrow is also from Batesville.

"Coach Morrow is born and raised in Batesville just like I am and he played tight end just like I do," Denton stated. "He's really bonded with all the offensive linemen. We always know he's got our backs, and whether it's class, something personal, or football, all we have to do is talk to him and he'll help us out."

Hendrix, another redshirt freshman athletically from last year, and a junior academically, said last year's training and college at Lyon was a huge benefit.

"I was a sophomore last year, but it helped to have that year of work last season," Hendrix stated. "It was tough not being able to play a game, but it will help us this season and I'm excited to see where it goes. We've just got to all get on the same page and see what happens.

"I've never really been a part of something that has started from the ground up. We're looking forward to it."

Kelley said he can see a difference in his team from a year ago, even before his players step on the field for their first game.

"You can already feel the difference," Kelley said. "When you do something like we did last year [practice, with no games] it's hard to stay motivated. The players did a good job, but it's a whole different mindset this year, preparing for actual games."

Kelley is looking for the familiarity and bond of the former Batesville players, along with other local talent and players recruited over the past two seasons, to combine to give him some much-needed spark when the inaugural season gets underway next week. That is when the Scots will be tested.

2015 Lyon Football Season Preview

Contributed by admin on Aug 24, 2015 - 11:21 PM
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 It's been 64 years since intercollegiate football has been played at Lyon College. The name of the institution was Arkansas College at that time. All the current students and most of the faculty and staff weren't even alive at that time. But it's a new generation, with new anticipation and excitement as the 2015 Scots take to the gridiron this fall.

All Lyon games live audio broadcast on 93.1-FM KZLE Radio, with Mark Lamberth and "Big Daddy" Randy Alan providing the play-by-play and color commentary. Home games will be simulcast by the Scots Digital Network with pay-per-view ($9.95 per game or six games for $49.95) on the website.

All six home games will be played at Batesville High School's state-of-the-art Pioneer Stadium (capacity 4,000).

Kirk Kelley (pictured at left) welcomed 94 players to training camp this fall, the program's second year of recruiting since the Board of Trustees reinstated the sport in June of 2013. Last year 73 Scots reported and went through a simulated fall season of practices, playing a pair of intra-squad scrimmages. This year will be for real.

"Last year we purposely tried to simulate a season, as far as workouts, because we wanted the players to feel the grind," Kelley stated. "We took a break or two during the fall to keep the players fresh, but we wanted them to get a feel for what a college season would be like – playing week after week for 12 weeks. It's tough."

Kelley said his players are excited about being a part of history at Lyon, as they moved into the college's brand new 22,000 square foot indoor football training center and prepare for the task ahead.

"They know what this means to this school and this community, and they're excited to be a part of history," the coach continued. "They have taken a lot of pride in what they're doing.

"And it's more than just the players, as far as how we got here. Last year we had a make-shift locker room while our training facility was being built. We didn't even have lockers, just a hook on the wall.

"So one of the first things we showed them in our first meeting was that hook, to show them what kind of support they have from this college and the community. Now we have a beautiful football facility, and we're going to start building with that and the hard work these men put in last year to prepare for 2015."

The Scots, fielding 54 true freshmen, 35 red-shirt freshmen, four juniors, and a senior, have a tough road ahead, starting the season at home on August 29 against Tabor College. The Blue Jays have won 17 games over the past two seasons and enter the season ranked 22nd nationally. They will follow that game with a home matchup on September 5 against 7th-ranked Lindsey Wilson. The Blue Raiders have won 18 games in their past two seasons, winning the Eastern Division of the Mid-South Conference last year with a spotless 6-0 mark.

"There's no doubt that our schedule goes against what a lot of start-up programs would do," Kelley explained. "But I don't think you can ever get your program where you want it to be if you don't show them what that example is.

"Is it a tough stretch? Sure it is. I saw Tabor play last year and they put 'men' out there on the field. And Lindsey Wilson put up 91 points against (Belhaven University), so these are two great, great teams. We'll definitely be challenged, but I think our men will respond."

Lyon will be a part of the Central States Football League this fall. The Scots will join Arizona Christian University as first-year full members. The Firestorm started their program a year ago, posting a 2-7 mark as an associate member of the league. Other CSFL teams include 18th-ranked Langston University (Okla.), Bacone College (Okla.), Southwest Assemblies of God University (Texas), Wayland Baptist University (Texas) and Texas College.

Langston won or tied for the league title the past two seasons and is the coaches and sports information directors' choice to claim the title again. The Scots will play the Lions at home on Oct. 31 (2 p.m.).

"We're fortunate to be able to play in a conference our first season," Kelley said. "By being in a conference, it allows our players to have the opportunity to win weekly accolades and also postseason honors. We're excited about the conference and what's ahead."

When Kelley and his staff built the team, they did it at 'home' first, with seven members of the squad (Joel Caraway, Johnathan Howard (FR/Batesville, Ark.),Khang Nguyen (FR/Batesville, Ark.), Jeffrey Fox (FR/Batesville, Ark.),Jonathan Hendrix (FR/Batesville, Ark.), Osvaldo Espericueta (FR/Batesville, Ark.), Garett Denton (FR/Batesville, Ark.) (pictured at right)) graduating from Batesville High School. Two more players (Raymond Gill (FR/Batesville, Ark.),Lucas Branscum (FR/Batesville, Ark.)) came from nearby Southside High School, and one each from Cave City (Cobie Robinson (FR/Cave City, Ark.)) Midland High School (Timothy Altom (FR/Midland, Ark.)).

Forty-three players on this year's team are Arkansas graduates, with 19 coming from Texas, 11 from Florida and 10 from Missouri.

Lyon brought back nearly half of this year's squad from a year ago. Kelley said although it will be a difference scenario this year, the players understand what the challenges are and have a different mindset.

"You can already feel the difference (from last year to this year)," Kelley said during the first week of practice. "When you go through a 'season' like we did last year it's hard to stay motivated. The players did a good job, but it's a whole different mindset this year and they'll get rewarded for their hard work each week with that game on Saturdays."

Kelley said, like last year, that starting spots are wide open on the squad. But he feels his team has the numbers to get a true gauge this season, as players battle for starting spots, not only in training camp, but during the season, as well.

"Number-wise, we're almost identical to last year," the coach noted. "We're a bit heavier (in numbers) defensively than we were last year, but we also have several transfers that will also help the freshmen and the other players coming back.

"I think the players that hung tough through our first fall in 2014 are reaping the rewards of becoming stronger, bigger and having a tighter bond between them. They can see the benefits and they're the nucleus of our team right now. They're leading the freshmen coming in to help make us a better team."

Kelley said he drew up a plan when he was hired as head coach in July 2013 and so far he likes the progress the program has made.

"When I first got here I drew up a plan. I have a diary and I like to map things out," Kelley explained. "A lot of things I thought we'd have in place and where we'd be at this point have gone pretty much as planned, so I feel good about that.

"But we still haven't been tested, and we still haven't played against juniors and seniors from another college, so that test is yet to come."

Regardless, the Scots are making history in 2015, with this year's squad setting the pace for Lyon squads in the future.