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Football Opens Camp

Life never gets easier in the Western States Football League. Eastern Arizona College head coach John O’Mera said the WSFL is stronger than ever in 2010. He doesn’t see one easy game when he looks at the Monsters’ schedule this season. Arizona Western is ranked No. 2 in the nation, and perennial power Snow College is ranked No. 8.

In 2009, EAC finished with an 8-3 record for the second consecutive season and was ranked No. 14 in the final NJCAA poll. Those accomplishments would be outstanding at most schools, but expectations are always high at Eastern (ranked No. 16). Despite the teams’ success over the last four years, O’Mera agonizes over some of the missed opportunities caused by losses in games the Monsters should have won.

Most of those bad losses can be attributed to the team getting overconfident or overlooking opponents. O’Mera said he is placing added emphasis on the “One day at a time” mentality this year. EAC hasn’t been to the postseason since 2007, when it won its first-ever bowl game in Chihuahua, Mexico.

The Monsters have a strong nucleus returning on offense. Four linemen are returning starters, in addition to quarterback Cody Von Appen and running back Chris Long. The offensive line looks to be a point of strength, with center Nate Hartung leading the way. “He’s the heart and soul of our offensive line,” O’Mera said of the 6-2, 347-pounder from Pennsylvania. Von Appen was a steady presence at quarterback last season, and Long blossomed into one of the WSFL’s top runners in the second half of 2009. Long had 747 yards and 10 touchdowns on just 93 carries, averaging 8 yards per carry. “(Long) isn’t a speed back. He is powerful,” O’Mera said. “He’s one of those guys who just seem to get yards.”

The defense returns three starters and defensive end Derek Romney, who played a significant role. Romney, a former star at Thatcher High School, should see more playing time this year. EAC has good experience at linebacker, as Winton Steward and Cory Roy are returning starters. The secondary is brand new, but O’Mera likes the potential of Marquis Quilles, Travell Dixon, Adam Dixon and Juan Jay.

Speed is a signature of O’Mera’s teams, and two high school track stars will vie for time at running back. Rashon Evans (New Jersey) ran the 100 meters in 10.4 seconds, and Antwone Story (Florida) has posted a time of 10.5.

Article written by Brian Wright

Eastern Arizona Courier Sports