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Warriors bring new attitude into 2015 season

Contributed by admin on Aug 26, 2015 - 12:21 AM
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FOREST CITY – The Waldorf College football team enters the 2015 season with a significant number of new faces.

"We're a lot younger than we have been in the past," Waldorf coachKent Anderson said. "We have a lot of incoming freshmen mixed in with some transfers."

Anderson, who's beginning his fourth season with the Warriors, has worked to shift the program's culture. From the adjustments he's seen in training camp, he feels the team possesses the ability to elevate its level of play.

"The biggest thing I've been impressed with and the biggest thing I'm looking for is an all-around better attitude, better character and more discipline," Anderson said. "Hopefully, that will equate into a little more success."

Returning first-team all-conference defensive end Jamaar Crayton ranked third for Waldorf with 51 tackles in 2014, collecting team-highs with four sacks and 19 tackles for a loss. The 6-foot-4, 280-pound senior from St. Louis recovered three fumbles and returned one for a 70-yard touchdown.

"Jamaar looked very good in camp," Anderson said. "His technique has improved dramatically. He uses his hands better and does the little things better than he's done in the past. I think he's ready to take the next step."

Sophomore Ty'Karius Brooks recorded 25 tackles last year and is making the transition to safety. Senior Tevin Padgett, who last played for the Warriors in 2012, also looks to help boost the secondary.

"Our defensive secondary has vastly improved," Anderson said.

Junior Dustin Wilke, who received second-team all-conference honors as a punter last season, looked sharp in the preseason. He averaged 39.7 yards per punt last year, which ranked 15th in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The native of Holzgerlingen, Germany booted a career-long 73-yard punt and also ranked fifth in the nation in field-goal percentage as he connected on 9-of-10 attempts.

Waldorf's quarterback position was up for grabs during the preseason.

"There was quite a quarterback battle going into training camp," Anderson said.

Cody Smith, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound sophomore from Indianola, will start under center against Kansas Wesleyan University in Saturday's 7 p.m. season opener at Bolstorff Field, which also marks Community Night at Waldorf.

"Cody seemed to emerge in camp," Anderson said. "He has great leadership skills, a very strong arm and that serves him well."

Isaac Sanchez brings experience as a play caller. The junior from Beaumont, Calif. completed 65-of-103 passes for 801 yards and eight touchdowns while appearing in seven games last year.

Quarterbacks coach Henry Stone has also been working alongside freshmen Brandon ButtsHilton Joseph and sophomoreDaniel Nicholas, who have made it difficult to select a starter to lead a team that ranked eighth in the NAIA in total offense with 450 yards per game a season ago.

"I feel like we have five quarterbacks who could all come in and get the job done without a doubt," Anderson said. "I have confidence in all of them."

The offensive line features a mix of youth and experience. Seniors Adam BuehlerWade HuettAnthony Romualdo, sophomoresMatt Sink and Ray Browder are returners from last season. Offensive line coach Erik Personius has been busy with 17 players in his unit.

"Our offensive line is probably as good as I've seen it in the four years I've been here," Anderson said. "Coach Personius has done a great job with the offensive line. It's been a big bright spot in training camp."

The offensive line aims to pave the way for a backfield that Anderson describes as "talented, but raw and untested."

Sophomore Julian Ampaw, freshmen Kevin PollockNathan Johnson and Alex Pierre are being asked to carry the load for the Warriors.

"I think you'll see all of these guys contributing in one role or another," Anderson said.

Freshmen LaVar Johnson, Jr. and Cale Crowder add to Waldorf's ground game as fullbacks.

"We're going to see a lot of freshman backs out there getting experience," Anderson said. "They're completely capable. We're excited about our running backs because there's a bright future."    

LaRyan Fletcher, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound junior transfer from West Hills Community College, has shown promise as a wide receiver.

Freshman Alvyns Alcenord should display a burst of speed while running passing routes for the Warriors.

"He's lightning quick and is going to do a great job for us," Anderson said.

Vybert Greene, a Des Moines native and junior transfer from Iowa Central Community College, will make an impact as part of the team's receiving corps and will also be a return specialist.

"He's a very physical slot wide receiver who can really run," Anderson said. "He can really stretch the field."

Waldorf turned a 3-7 record last year and begins the 2015 campaign against an opponent coming off a similar season. Kansas Wesleyan went 2-9 last season, finishing ninth in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) with a 2-7 league mark.

Coach Matt Drinkall, in just his second season at Kansas Wesleyan, has quickly ramped up the program's numbers.

"They feel they're ready to turn the corner," Anderson said. "Based on what they've done in the offseason, they're positioning themselves to be in that spot. They're going to be much better than they have been in the past."

Last year's records can go out the window. It's a new season and Anderson knows the Coyotes are a team that can't be overlooked.

"They'll be a great first opponent," Anderson said. "They're going to be very tough."

Heading into a new season, keeping composure in the face of adversity is the top priority for the Warriors.

"That's something we haven't been able to get through in the past," Anderson said.

During training camp, Waldorf's coaching staff brought in a group of Navy SEAL trainers to help the team establish a sense of unity. Grueling exercises put the Warriors to the test, but it wasn't the only time they were challenged in practice.

 "The kids have responded very well," Anderson said. "We've thrown a lot of adversity at them at surprise moments in training camp to try to get them to break and wilt, but they've hung in there really tough."

Anderson is looking at small victories to turn his program around, stressing the importance of overcoming adversity and being patient. It's the type of approach the team will need in the North Star Athletic Association (NSAA).

Making its NSAA debut in 2014, Waldorf placed sixth in the conference standings with a 1-5 league mark. The Warriors have been picked to finish sixth in the conference preseason coaches' poll – something Anderson doesn't give much stock.

"That all goes out the window as soon as the ball is kicked off," Anderson said. "The conference is just getting better and better."

Valley City State University is ranked No. 17 in the NAIA preseason poll and is favored to win the NSAA championship.

Dakota State University will be Waldorf's first NSAA opponent of 2015 when the Warriors travel to Madison, S.D. on Sept. 12. It's a matchup that will set the tone for the conference season.

"I think everybody's going to be improved," Anderson said. "The conference is going to be good and we just have to rise to the occasion."