Jacks get set for home opener against Tarleton

The Lumberjack offense and defense get set to run a play during practice. Several newcomers were added to the roster during the offseason after Colby Carthel took the position as head coach.

SFA football returns to Homer Bryce Stadium for the first time this season as the team prepares for a non-conference clash with NCAA Division II opponent Tarleton State at 6 p.m. on Saturday.

This will be the first home opener for Colby Carthel after he was named the Jacks’ 20th head coach in December and will also be the first game of the season for the Texans. Following a 56-17 setback in the season opener to Big 12 foe Baylor, the Lumberjacks have a chance to redeem themselves Saturday in search of their first win in the Carthel era.

“We are super excited to be here at home,” Carthel said. “It was a neat experience in Waco, but there is no place like home.”

This will be the 13th meeting between the Lumberjacks and the Texans and the first meeting between the two since 2007. Tarleton narrowly defeated SFA in overtime 27-24 in a non-conference bout in Nacogdoches. The teams were scheduled to face off in last season’s home opener, but the game was canceled due to inclement weather.

The Lumberjacks hold a 9-3 advantage in the series against the Texans.

Although Tarleton State has not played SFA in 12 seasons, the Texans are no strangers to the Lumberjacks’ head coach. After six seasons as head coach for Texas A&M- Commerce, Carthel and his teams went 5-2 against their Lone Star Conference rivals as both teams competed annually for the President’s Cup. In the Texans’ latest meeting against Carthel, they defeated his Lions 34-28 in the regional semifinal round of the NCAA Division II playoffs.

The Jacks face a tough task as the Texans were voted to repeat as conference champions in the 2019 LSC preseason poll. Additionally, they received 19 first-place votes out of 25 ballots.

Tarleton State is coming off a successful 2018 campaign in which they went 12-1 overall and 8-0 in conference play en route to an appearance in the NCAA Division II Regional Final.

Led by head coach Todd Whitten, a former SFA quarterback and 1987 graduate, the Texans shattered numerous school records, including total yards in a season (6,709) and most wins (12) in a single season. After a successful run last season, the Texans are reloaded with talent on both sides of the ball.

After being granted another year of eligibility, the Texans will be led offensively by senior quarterback Ben Holmes. The signal caller completed 165 passes out of 283 pass attempts and threw for 2,659 yards with 28 touchdowns and six interceptions in 2018. Holmes totted the rock 89 times for 501 yards and added two scores. Last season, the Orchard Park, New York, native was tabbed as a second team All-Lone Star Conference selection at quarterback and was voted on by his teammates as Team MVP.

Additionally, Holmes led Tarleton to being ranked the No. 5 offense in the country. Holmes will receive help from his playmakers including senior tailback Daniel McCants, a second team LSC selection; tight end Brant Bailey, a first team LSC selection and wide receiver Zimari Manning, a first team LSC selection.

Prince Robinson, a senior defensive back and a first team LSC selection at cornerback, was recently named to the Reese’s Senior Bowl Watch List. The list includes the top seniors from every division of college football. Robinson was only one of three Division II football players who made the 475-player list. The Houston product led the Texan defense in interceptions and pass breakups last season by tallying five and 15 respectively. He also recorded 61 total tackles and forced two fumbles.

Robinson returns along with teammates Jai Edwards, a first team LSC selection at safety and leader in solo tackles (62); Devin Hafford, a first team LSC selection at cornerback and Ronell Wilson, a second team LSC selection at linebacker.

The game will be televised on ESPN3 and heard on the radio on Q107.7.

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