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Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) football th

“I think they’ve tasted some success and they obviously really enjoyed it.  This squad, being different from last year, is much more focused and disciplined on doing better,” says second year head coach Frank Tristan .

The 2015 season ended with SAGU winning their first-ever post-season appearance in the NCCAA Victory Bowl .  The Lions do return some of the most familiar faces from last year’s squad, especially on offense.

“Offensively we are very comfortable in returning nine starters.  Most of the time in preseason the offense is performing behind the defense, but this year with the amount of returners and depth offensively, there hasn’t been as much of a learning curve in the preseason,” says Tristan.

Last year, offensive coordinator Paul Hanson only had a little over two weeks to work with the offense before their first game.  He didn’t have a chance to be at many practices for spring ball.  This year he is relying heavily on upperclassman leadership.  Junior quarterback CJ Collins will begin his third year as the starting quarterback for the Lions.  Protecting Collins upfront will be an entire returning squad of offensive lineman, four of which were starters last year.

Last year, Collins ranked no. 21 in the NAIA in total offense (2,375 yards).  He averaged nearly 200 yards passing per game, with a completion percentage of over 57%.  SAGU’s leading rusher, Ricky Bickham , will also be returning for his junior season.  Last year he averaged over 61 yards per game.  SAGU’s leading receiver will also be back.  Senior Chaz Moncriffe averaged 3.5 catches per game last year.

On the other side of the ball, the Lions will be replacing five positions that are open due to graduation.  However, the bright spot, according to Tristan, is that two All-Americans will be returning, “On defense, we do return First Team All-American defensive lineman D’Vonn Brown , which is great.  We also return Second Team All-American defensive back Carl Morgan .”  Both Brown and Morgan have been picked as NAIA Pre-Season First Team All-American’s.

Brown, a 6’3 senior from Houston, Texas, had 62 tackles, 26 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks.  In 2015 he ranked first in the country for tackles for loss per game (2.4) and second in total tackles for loss (26).  Brown ranked third in total sacks (11.5), fifth in sacks per game (1), and 11 th in fumbles forced per game (0.3).

As a sophomore, Morgan had 19 pass break-ups, five interceptions, two of which he ran back for a touchdown.  He also had 32 tackles.

Another familiar face that will be returning for his senior season is kicker Chadd Dearen .  In June, Dearen transferred to Oklahoma State University.  He spent the summer participating in the Cowboy’s preseason football camp.  At the end of camp, Dearen was deemed ineligible to play for the NCAA.  For the NAIA, Dearen has one final season left and the Lions were ready to welcome the 2014 & 2015 Central States Football League Special Teams Player of the Year back home with open arms.

Last season, Dearen had 15 field goals with a long of 54-yards.  Dearen averaged 38-yards a punt and 15 of his punts were downed inside the 20 yard line.  He also had 28 kick-offs for touchbacks.

As for new faces, Tristan believes a few freshmen, as well as a few transfers will be making an immediate impact.  Freshman receiver Bryon Dotson , freshman outside linebacker Cody Page , freshman defensive tackle Anson Friday and freshman cornerback Aaron Richards will all see significant playing time for the Lions.

The Lions did go 8-3 in 2015, but they lost two CSFL games and ended third in the conference.  Tristan says this year one of the goals is to win the CSFL outright, “One of the goals of our upperclassman and seniors is to win the conference and advance to the NAIA playoffs for the first time ever.”

The Lions kick-off the 2016 season on Saturday, September 3, 2016 at Howard Payne University .  Game time is at 7pm.  In last year’s match-up the Lions played HPU the third game of the season.  The game was tied 17-17 going into the fourth quarter.  The Lions were able to outscore them 21 to seven in the fourth and ultimately win the game 38-24.

Howard Payne will be broadcasting the game.  You can find the link HERE.

Southwestern Assemblies of God University is a private, Christian university located 30 minutes south of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex in Waxahachie, Texas. The university was established in 1927, and now offers more than 70 associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees on campus or online. More information is available at or by calling 1-888-YES-SAGU.
Contact: Natalie Tristan, SAGU SID, [email protected]

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