Aug. 11, 2011
Bearcats open camp
MARYVILLE, Mo. - The 2011 football season kicked off for the Northwest Missouri State Bearcats Thursday morning on Mel Tjeerdsma Field/Bearcat Stadium, and there was a definite air of excitement as the team went through workouts in unseasonable weather conditions.
Adam Dorrel begins his first season as head coach of the Bearcats, who are looking to defend their MIAA crown for a sixth consecutive year and enter the 2011 season ranked fourth in two preseason polls. The Bearcats finished a perfect 9-0 run in MIAA play last year and 12-2 mark overall, falling to eventual national champion Minnesota-Duluth.
The Bearcats opened an up-tempo practice as 14 seniors will try to help extend a 46-game conference winning streak. The streak dates back to Nov. 5, 2005 and broke the old MIAA record of 41 games which was also held by a Northwest squad from 1997-2001.
"Overall I was really pleased with the first practice," first year head coach Adam Dorrel said. "I felt like the offensive line lacked some intensity, but the rest of the team had a good first day. There are some exciting players helping make this an exciting team."
The Bearcats ran through drills early Thursday morning in only helmets and will continue doing so into the weekend before adding shoulder pads on Saturday. Monday will be the first time players will suit up in full pads a day before beginning two-a-day practices. Northwest will continue each morning at 9:15 a.m. through the weekend before starting night practice at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.
Junior running back Billy Creason looked sharp and injury free in Thursday's first practice. Creason was limp free after two injuries limited the running back to sparse action in seven games. He worked primarily with the No. 1 unit splitting time with transfer James Franklin .... Franklin is cause for Bearcat fans to be excited about the trio that will line-up in the backfield with senior quarterback Blake Christopher. Franklin is experienced in the MIAA after earning All-MIAA honors a year ago as a part of the Nebraska-Omaha backfield. He also got time with the first team on Thursday and seemed to quickly pick up the new play book and teamed with Creason and Jordan Simmons could arguably be the best backfield in the league ... speaking of UNO transfers, John Becklun got split reps with the first and second teams and looked impressive not only in football knowledge, but stature ... also on the offensive side transfer Jon Gregg got reps in at tight end. Gregg transferred from Monterey Peninsula Junior Colllege where he played tight end, after starting his college career as a basketball player ... adding to the receiving corps were returners Tyler Shaw, John Hinchey, and Kyle Kilgore. Along with returners No. 3 was catching passes, however this year it will be from the offensive side of the ball. Brian Miller, from Nebraska-Omaha will wear No. 3 previously occupied by All-America corner back Ryan Jones who recently signed an NFL contract with the Chicago Bears ... the defensive units were a few steps ahead on the first day winning the competition portion of practice after batting down a near interception ... a solid morning by the defensive line and linebacker corps allowed the defensive backs to stand out. A pair of Derrick's in the secondary, senior captain Derrick Hightower, and transfer Derrick Thomas had solid practices. Thomas will suit up for his only season at Northwest, as the CB transferred from Texas A&M-Kingsville, an opponent the Bearcats saw twice last season ... also in the secondary with another solid practice was UNO transfer Jerry Key ... several familiar faces were on the turf at Mel Tjeerdsma Field including Chad Bostwick entering his first season coaching the linebackers and graduated from Northwest in 2004. Ken Gordon also returns to Northwest to coach the secondary and special teams after spending two stints at Northwest, one as a player and one as a graduate assistant ... also returning as a full-time assistant is Joel Osborn who was a graduate assistant the previous two seasons. Shayne Shade was also on the field as a student assistant coach as well.
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