Heartland Conference power picked 3rd in the ’22 preseason poll by a vote of the league coaches
Winning the Hanover game is key for the Colonels as the Panthers routinely invade the confines of the commonwealth for top-flight football talent. Beating these guys may help close that border, especially the gate we need to erect around Louisville.Fletcher W. Long, KPGFootball Senior Scout
Centre is coming off a scrimmage in Cincinnati with a Heartland Conference team picked just ahead of the team with which the Colonels will open. Since our showing left a ton to be desired, particularly offensively, this is not necessarily good news.
One thing is for certain, we MUST be prepared to play considerably better than we did against the Mount or the bus trip home will be a long and arduous one. Cheer up, there is always the chance we were trying hard not to show much to upcoming opponents. Were this the goal, then congratulations Colonels; mission accomplished.
Hanover will be a tough team, particularly on offense. Quarterback Matthew Weimer (featured photo) returns and has already been selected to the Heartland Conference’s preseason “Seniors to Watch” list along with five (5) of his cohorts.
Austin Oppel (So, RB) is an example of the type of incursion we would like to thwart going forward if you’re a Colonel football fan. Oppel prepped at Mead County and is from Brandenburg, KY.
Oppel got some significant PT as a freshman a year ago and looked right impressive. His youth and unfamiliarity with the offensive scheme should be somewhat alleviated by experience and a year in the program to include Spring practice. We hear Oppel is challenging for first-team reps at RB.
Oppel isn’t the only Kentuckian we will expect to see logging significant PT this Saturday for the Panthers. Hanover dipped into the Derby City and inked VJ Anthony out of Male High in last Fall’s freshman signing class.
Anthony is a large frame, superior athlete. Anthony has the ability to work the middle with his athleticism and hands well while still providing the run game valuable contributions from his post as the OL’s “Sixth Member.”
Here is a funny anecdote about Anthony. We were watching a Hanover game on live stream a year ago and Anthony came in at TE.
One of our Editorial Board members said, “Look at that big stud at TE (who just entered the game). I wonder who he is?” It was Anthony.
Anthony’s brother Vinny is playing football on scholarship at the University of Wisconsin for the Badgers and his dad played collegiately at WKU. You might say football is in the Anthony family blood.
The offensive backfield will work behind two very good offensive linemen both of whom are seniors. Both Jacob Doll, from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Will Kern, from Lafayette, Indiana are back to anchor the front.
Hunter Eads, WR from Cincinnati, will anchor the receiving corp. Watch closely the combination Weimer to Eads as it tends to get down field behind defenses who are lulled into coming up and trying to help out in the run box. Hanover is a very multiple and versatile offensive club and is very well coached. They take football very seriously at Hanover College, like Centre does.
Defensively, the Panthers will lean on a few senior stars. Devonte Hardiman (DL, Princeton, Ind.) is among the conferences best along the defensive front. Look out for Jayleem Santos a sophomore from Warren Robbins, Georgia.
Santos is mean as a snake and they didn’t lure him out of the Peach State to watch from the sidelines. Santos is just another example of the recruiting reach of some of the top-flight programs patrolling the NCAA D-3 ranks. Elijah Irvine, a Louisville product (Sr., Eastern High), is ready to show what he can do.
Nash Murphy (Sr.), from Columbus, Indiana, is one of the few upper-classmen around the linebacker room. Look for Junior, Jamey Deckard (Bedford, Ind.) and Murphy to show these young guys what it takes to play linebacker at this level. Cody Horner (DB, Combs, Ind.) patrols the defensive 3rd level and discourages QBs from looking his direction.
Coaching wise, the Panthers are rock solid. Head coach, Matt Theobald enters his seventh season at the helm and has a 31-12 conference mark over that time frame. The Panthers polished off a perfect 7-0 conference mark in 2019 and a second consecutive NCAA berth.
Overall, this would be a statement win should the Colonels prevail. First of all it is on the road, where it is tough to thrive regardless of the location, and it is against a team ranked toward the top of a very competitive conference.
To win this opener, the Colonels will have to be much more consistent offensively than what we saw in Cincinnati. The Colonel defense will likewise be tested by a senior laden OL and a guy at the controls at QB who has been around the lay of the land and shown he has what it takes to succeed in college football.
See you guys in Indiana!
This is Coach HB Lyon, reporting for KPGFootball, and we’re JUST CALLING IT LIKE WE SEE IT!
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