Lyon College [1]

2015 Lyon Football Season Preview

Contributed by admin on Aug 24, 2015 - 11:21 PM

Picture 0 for 2015 Lyon Football Season Preview [2]

2015 SCHEDULE [3] | 2015 ROSTER [4] | 2015 PROSPECTUS [5]
 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 [8] (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 [9] (FR/Batesville, Ark.),Khang Nguyen [10] (FR/Batesville, Ark.), Jeffrey Fox [11] (FR/Batesville, Ark.),Jonathan Hendrix [12] (FR/Batesville, Ark.), Osvaldo Espericueta [13] (FR/Batesville, Ark.), Garett Denton [14] (FR/Batesville, Ark.) (pictured at right)) graduating from Batesville High School. Two more players (Raymond Gill [15] (FR/Batesville, Ark.),Lucas Branscum [16] (FR/Batesville, Ark.)) came from nearby Southside High School, and one each from Cave City (Cobie Robinson [17] (FR/Cave City, Ark.)) Midland High School (Timothy Altom [18] (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.

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