Lyon College [1]

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 [3] 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 [4] (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 [5] (6-0, 200-lb. LB from (Cherokee Village, Ark.) and Xavier Story [6] (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.

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