FORT WAYNE – The lights will be on tonight at Bishop John M. D’Arcy Stadium, where the annual Saint Francis Blue-Black spring football game goes off with a 7 p.m. kickoff.
The illumination, however, has already begun.
Yeah, hopefully we’re reloading as opposed to rebuilding, Saint Francis coach Kevin Donley says.
This after a spring that suggests reloading might be exactly what’s happening.
Offensively, running backs Antoin Campbell and Garrett Harvey sat out the spring as they continue to recover from injuries suffered last fall, but the position remains a known quantity with three backs – Jason Nicodemus, Jalen Campbell and Aaron Harris – still around.
The receiver position and the middle of the offensive line look solid, too. Six of the Cougars’ seven top pass-catchers from last year (Cam Smith, Matt Noll, Akeim Kelsaw, Cody Appenzeller, Seth Coate and Seth Stuart) return, and so does lineman Jesse Boley, who was also lost to injury last season.
(Boley) has been very, very strong at center, Donley says. So we should be strong in the middle. And we’ve got some really good skill players in the receiving corps.
At quarterback, sophomore Bradley Jarzab and junior Logan Rehrer have gotten a good look as Wes Hunsucker, who played in eight games and threw for 403 yards and five touchdowns last year, has been playing baseball.
Defensively, a veteran linebacking corps and a defensive front led by senior end Zach Bruce, plus Kory Stamps, Na’Shawn Lewis-McClain, Cale Tabler, Jerrell Holman and freshman safety Spencer Cowherd in the backfield should give the Cougars a solid unit to build around heading into the fall.
The Cougars, 9-3 last season and winners of the Mid-States Football Association Mideast League title for the 11th time, were ranked sixth in the spring NAIA Football Coaches’ Top 25 Poll.
As for the spring game, it will be a regulation game, minus kickoffs, with the teams chosen in a draft by the seniors.
And it likely won’t be the established players who’ll be most under scrutiny.
You always want to see how new players who maybe were in a scout team role or a backup role perform given the opportunity, Donley says. It’s always pretty important to establish themselves on the depth chart, and the spring game kind of does that.