Scots looking to make USAC statement
By Marcus Fitzsimmons | (email@example.com)
Two games into USA South play and only three things are clear.
Christopher Newport has the early edge, again
North Carolina Wesleyan is struggling.
Everybody else has an opportunity.
Maryville College is among six teams stacked up at 1-1 in the conference standings after the league thoroughly beat up on each other and left CNU the only undefeated two games into the seven-game slate.
The Scots (2-3, 1-1) have the same opportunity as everyone else this afternoon to provide some separation when they take on Methodist University (2-3, 1-1) down in Fayetteville, N.C.
The Monarchs showed just how off a year it’s likely to be for Wesleyan when they dispatched NCW — generally an upper tier contender the past few seasons — almost casually 34-13 last week. The win made up considerably for the 34-33 heartbreaking loss to their closest conference neighbor Greensboro. But that’s the same Greensboro squad that lost on its side of the Smokies to Maryville last week, 41-6.
While comparing scores in the USAC to determine what should happen on a given Saturday is a wonderful way to end up madder than cut snakes, there’s a certain degree of maybe this week where Mike Rader’s Fighting Scots are concerned.
CNU is the hands down favorite to take the USAC’s crown, something that’s most noticeable only when the Captains don’t do it as when they generally do. But the Caps squeaked out of Honaker Field with a narrow win and won a similar game against Ferrum — in what the http://D3football.com experts picked as the deciding factor game otherwise known as the most likely upset point on the annual CNU march to the postseason.
But if that’s true, then what does that say about Maryville?
After dropping three of its first four, the outlook wasn’t stellar despite the gallant fight the boys in Orange & Garnet put up against CNU. Now, could it be that MC is poised to be a major factor in the USAC? Even a contender should CNU slip on a wet banana peel under the maintenance ladder and crashes into a mirror?
Today could go a long way toward answering that question.
Methodist and Maryville has always been an awkward rivalry but a convincing Maryville win puts the Scots a game back of the lead and with two road victories a leg up on the rest of the field.
It won’t be that easy of course.
Both schools have changed head coaches since former Monarchs skipper Jim Sypult was so instrumental in bringing Maryville into the USAC football fold. The good-natured, hate you one week a year kinship between the programs isn’t what it was and that natural rivalry that existed as Methodist was the original MC disappeared when the school switched from college to a university and the acronym changed, ending the MC confusion.
But odd things happen. The best record hardly prevails. The home team often loses. And turnovers are the order of the day.
That may change today under Rader and if so, Maryville could reach not only .500 but find itself the chased in the USAC.
Marcus Fitzsimmons is sports editor at The Daily Times. Follow him on Twitter @TDT_Sports