Morgan State not overlooking opener vs. Bowie State

Bears face challenging early-season schedule before starting goal of reaching MEAC championship

  • Morgan State quarterback Donovan Dickerson, left, and running back Collin Bing pose for a picture during the team's media day at Hughes Stadium. Dickerson, a sophomore, is the only returning quarterback who has played in a game.
Morgan State quarterback Donovan Dickerson, left, and running… (Photo by Colby Ware for The…)
August 08, 2010|By Colin Stevens, The Baltimore Sun

The Morgan State football team faces a daunting schedule in the coming season, including traveling to College Park to face Maryland for the first time and a trip to distant North Dakota State in back-to-back games.

And that's before the Bears open their Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference schedule against Howard in East Rutherford, N.J., in one of the first games at the new Giants Stadium -- an experience the players won't soon forget.

But the Bears are focusing all their attention on their first game of the season, against Bowie State on Sept. 4, knowing they can't dismiss a single opponent if they are to reach the MEAC championship.

"I'm looking forward to [playing in Giants Stadium], but it all starts with the first game," junior tight end Lamont Bryant said Sunday at the team's media day at Hughes Stadium." We can't look over the first game. We have to start from that game and take it one game at a time."

That narrow focus is something coach Donald Hill-Eley has stressed to his players throughout summer camp, which began Aug. 1.

Last season, the Bears started strong, winning five straight games after losing their opener to Akron, 41-0. During the winning streak, Morgan didn't allow an opponent to score more than 13 points.

But without a bye week during the season, injuries mounted and the season turned for the worse. The Bears lost the next four games, allowing more than 30 points in each contest, before winning the season finale against Hampton, 16-13.

This season, the Bears have a week off in October, and they return 14 starters despite having only eight seniors on the roster. With such little turnover, Hill-Eley feels confident in the direction his team is heading.

"We've seen a lot of the young guys over the summer," he said. "They stayed up and they worked and they're trying to win the position. We're going to be young, but we're going to be very competitive, and we're going to have a lot of talent out there."

One of the biggest losses from last season is Carlton Jackson, who started every game at quarterback for the Bears. Sophomore Donovan Dickerson is the only returning quarterback with playing experience; he threw for 29 yards, one touchdown and one interception on 10 attempts. He will be competing with redshirt freshman Delonte Williams.

"Every day, they're competing," Hill-Eley said. "And as we move further towards close to the game, the best one will step forward. I'm hoping that they both compete to the point where it makes it very tough to pick a starter week in and week out. We've done that before, and that would be great."

Junior defensive end Bricen Tate, one of the team's four captains, sees a lot of promise in the Bears. The team worked hard through spring practices and has maintained that work ethic during the summer.

He said that for the team to realize its potential, it will need complete commitment from every one, something he has seen so far.

"The first day of camp, [Hill-Eley] came in front of us, and he was talking about intensity level and how everything that's at home is at home and we need to be focused on football right now," Tate said. "At that moment, everything that was outside of football had deceased. It's all football from here on out for the next three to four weeks. I think if you can't commit yourself for three to four weeks to get ready for the season, you can't commit yourself to anything."

colin.stevens@baltsun.com

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