By ADD SEYMOUR JR.
So much for predictions.
The 2010 Morehouse Maroon Tigers football team ignored a pre-season predicted fifth-place finish in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference to go 8-3 and make the school’s first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division II playoffs.
“Coming into the fall, I felt real good about the season,” said head coach Rich Freeman. “I knew we would have a contender and that was evident.”
The historic season ended with a playoff loss to Wingate. But the season was full of high notes. For the first time, the Maroon Tigers were ranked among the nation’s top 25 Division II football teams in the country, finishing the season ranked 23rd in the nation.
Senior defensive lineman Darrin “Night Train” Nettles was named the SIAC’s Defensive Player of the Year. He also was a finalist for the national Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year Award.
Nettles and four other players – running back David Carter (who led the SIAC in rushing), center Marlon Jones, offensive lineman Miles Stroter and receiver Derrick Hector – were named to the All-SIAC first team. Offensive linemen Jarvis Canty and Stacy Louis, punter Ian Mullen, defensive back Darrius Williams and linebacker Charlie Wilson were second team picks.
The Maroon Tigers finished tied for second in the conference standings with a heartbreaking 13-12 loss to Albany State University keeping Morehouse from winning the 2010 SIAC championship, Freeman said.
“This season gave our team an opportunity to do what we wanted to do when we started the year – do something that was memorable,” he said. “I think this is the start of many new things to come.”
Freeman is hoping the historic season will spur upgrades in a football program that has fewer scholarships and facilities that aren’t on par with other SIAC institutions.
“To complete the success we’ve had and give us a chance to have greater successes, we want to be able to build on this season,” Freeman said. “We need continued and increased backing from administration and alumni.”
Freeman said another season like 2010 – which he is expecting in 2011 – will be the payback for that support.
“This season pretty much negated the years-long rumor that Morehouse is a place that doesn’t support athletics,” he said. “The entire Morehouse community has made this a great environment.”