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Courtesy: GoBearkats.com
Players look ahead to 2012 Southland race
Courtesy: GoBearkats.com
Release: 07/29/2012
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Last week, players for all eight Southland Conference football teams gathered for the annual "Media Day" with regional sports news reporters at  L'Auberge du Lac Resort; in Lake Charles, La.

Besides interviews with various print and broadcast media, the players were featured on a special "Southland Conference Live" telecast featured on the new Southland Digital TV network and ESPN3.

Here's what players from each of the teams had to say about the upcoming Southland Conference football season:

Dominique Croom, Central Arkansas Wide Receiver
"Most of our team on offense is coming back, with the exception of our quarterback. We have a young offensive line but they are working hard and are very eager to get on the field and make plays. We feel good about where we are on the offensive side of the ball with the talent we have returning.

"It's going to be a great challenge to play Sam Houston State, just like it was last year. But just like all the other quality teams in the Southland Conference, we know we have to go out and play hard every week to come out with a victory. It's going to be tough, but I think all the hard work and preparation we have put in will show up on the field and help us be one of the top teams in the league, of not the top team."


James Washington, Lamar Linebacker
"This is our third year of competition, and every year our schedule has gotten consistently harder. The talent level in the Southland is really strong. It's a challenge, but one that we welcome. We're picked seventh this year. Our coach reminded us that Sam Houston was picked fourth last year and went 14-1. It's something we take to heart because we work just as hard as the other teams. At the same time, we understand we're a fairly new program and we have to earn the respect of the rest of the conference."


Jonathan Landry, McNeese State Offensive Tackle
"We have a big advantage of an experienced offensive line that is going block for our running backs and as a running back they have to trust us that we will do that for them. Also when things get tough in the huddle, we are there to calm things down and keep things going as planned. It all starts up front and I really believe that. If we are doing well, then the team is doing well."


Siegan Vergenal, Nicholls State Defensive Back
"We're picked last in the preseason poll but that's just extra motivation. Now, our team has a chip on its shoulder. Our coaches believe in us and wants us to face the toughest opponents, so we're eager to get out there and forget about last season."


Brad Henderson, Northwestern State Quarterback
"This year we're more of a shotgun team as where last year we were a power running team. We're going to try in the ball into a lot of guys' hands. We had a lot of talented players, but the style of play didn't allow us to get it to them. This year into a lot different receivers' hands and that will help out the chemistry of the offense since everyone feels that contribute."

 
Kaleb Hopson, Sam Houston Offensive Lineman
"All year long the coaches told us to take things one game at a time - to go 1-and-0 each week. It didn't really dawn on me how good we were until we went through the Southland Conference undefeated. Then, each week in the playoffs, we kept playing tougher teams. Playing in the finals was a tremendous experience. The people in Frisco and the Southland Conference did a great job with the event.

"It hurt to lose that game and we want to get back. But we've got to step it up this year to repeat as champions. Last year we were picked to finish fourth. We've got the target on our back this year and everyone will be gunning for us. We lost two outstanding senior leaders last year in Travis Watson and Chris Crockett. Everyone in the offensive line has experience playing. I know as a senior this year, I've got a lot of responsibility to become one of those types of leaders.

"It sure is a lot of fun to have players like Tim Flanders and Richard Sincere to block for. They do a great job of sharing the credit with the offensive line."


Kenneth Jenkins, Sam Houston Defensive Back
"Our motto this year is 'Finish.' We had a great season last year and got all the way to the national championship. But we lost to an outstanding North Dakota State team. We want to get back to Frisco and show we can finish.

"We've got to remember what got us to Frisco last year, however. We can't go into this next season with the big head. We're in one of the toughest conferences in the country. We did a good job last year of starting each week with the goal of going 1-0 that week. We can't take anything for granted. We had outstanding senior leadership last year. Now, as seniors, ourselves, we know we've got to step into that leadership role.

"We had an excellent offense and an excellent defense last year. But, to be successful again this year, we've got to come together and support each other as a team. We have to work even harder."


Paul Roppolo, Southeastern Louisiana Offensive Lineman
"Our new staff has really concentrated on making sure we're having fun and enjoying the game, which is a big part of winning football games. They are trying to instill a winning attitude. We know they come from a great program and are proven winners, so we're excited about the progress we've made in the spring and we're ready to get going in fall camp.We've become more focused as a group and we feel like as a unit there's more of a sense of togetherness. We have to continue to concentrate on our execution. We expect a big improvement in the coming season."


Cordell Roberson, SFA Wide Receiver
"Last year is a motivating factor for us this season. We came in and won as freshman. We repeated as sophomores, but last year we came up well short of our goals. The only thing we want to do is go out as winners. Our main goal is getting back to the top of the Southland. We want to go out the way we came in."

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