MOREHEAD, Ky. -- Morehead State opens its 2011 football campaign with a Thursday night contest against NAIA foe Kentucky Christian at Jayne Stadium at 7 p.m.
From just down interstate 64 in Grayson, KCU is in its third season of intercollegiate football. The Knights are under the direction of former NFL wide receiver and first-year collegiate head coach Mike Furrey.
The Eagles are under the leadership of the dean of Pioneer Football League coaches, Matt Ballard. Entering his 18th year at the helm, Ballard ranks second among all current PFL coaches with 95 wins at MSU.
Morehead State closed out the 2010 campaign last November with a double overtime victory in Jayne Stadium against Campbell, lifting the Eagles’ final marks to 5-6 overall and 4-4 in the PFL. With 16 starters back in the mix, MSU is primed for even better results in 2011.
On offense, junior quarterback Zach Lewis will run a new-look offensive system, getting the primary signals from new offensive coordinator Rob Tenyer. Lewis returns as one of the league’s top passers, ranking second in the league last year in passing yardage (2,898) while tossing 15 touchdowns. Among his weapons of choice in the aerial game, the Eagles return nine of their top 10 pass catchers, including leading receiver Ronnie McDermott. Also back are juniors Jaison Yoshimura and Donte Sawyer, who combined for 65 catches and more than 600 yards.
Defensively, the Eagles are solid on the line and in the middle of the field at linebacker. Senior defensive ends Jerome Raymond and Mark Hall combined for 36 tackles for loss last year and look to do more damage to opponents’ rushing games this year. Senior middle linebacker Tony Bachman set the MSU single season record for tackles in 2010.
Kentucky Christian enters the game fresh off a 20-6 victory at Southern Virginia last Saturday, giving Furrey a win in his debut. Deonte Merricks rushed for 175 yards and two touchdowns. Last year, the Knights finished their first full year in the Mid South Conference at 0-11.
Next week, the Eagles travel to Illinois State to face the Missouri Valley Conference’s Redbirds in Normal, Ill., at 7:30 p.m. EST