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Incarnate Word coach seeing progress
Larry Kennan is seeing the progress.
The second-year Incarnate Word football coach isn’t predicting the Cardinals to be a dominant force during their jump from Division II to the Division I Football Championship Subdivision this fall. However, he believes UIW will make strides to gain respect, thanks to a strong recruiting class, coupled with the work from the offseason.
Kennan, whose Cardinals went 2-9 (1-7 Lone Star Conference) during his debut a year ago, expects a number of incoming freshmen to make immediate contributions. In the meantime, the focus is on grooming the current players before offseason workouts wrap up April 20 with the spring game at Benson Stadium.
The emphasis has been on becoming bigger, faster and stronger, while becoming more consistent in all areas of the game.
“We are way better now than we were a year ago at any point and time,” Kennan said. “A number of guys are bigger and stronger. We’re still not close to being good enough, but I’m making no excuses for this team.
“They know how to work hard. We have some guys who can run. I think we’ll win more games. I don’t know how many more, but we’re going to be a lot more fun to coach and watch.”
Because of heavy graduation losses, newcomers will be manning many of the positions, especially on offense, where the Cardinals could have one senior, two juniors and the rest sophomore and freshmen.
Matt Bass, the lone senior, is expected to work at fullback. The juniors excepted to make contributions are offensive lineman Devin Threat and wide receiver Casey Jennings, a junior college transfer.
Offense is drawing plenty of attention this spring, especially after the struggles from a year ago.
Quarterback will have a new leader as sophomores Taylor Woods and Trent Brittain are competing for the job.
“They both have talent,” Kennan said. “Taylor is a good thrower and understands the game. Trent is an exciting guy. He has great explosion and can throw the deep ball extremely well. It will be fun to see who comes out of this.”
The running game’s top returner is sophomore Joseph Sadler of Devine. Sadler, the area’s high school single-season rushing leader (3,887 yards) and state scoring leader (451 points), gained experience as a freshman, rushing for 197 yards on 37 carries.
“(Sadler) has some running skills,” Kennan said. “He needs to be a little more disciplined in how he runs. But he has some ability to make people miss.”
UIW’s offensive line could be solid with Will Mora (Brennan), Riley Mathews (Dilley) and Matt McCarthy (Reagan) leading the unit.
Incarnate Word will play an independent schedule this season before joining the Southland Conference the following year.
Even though the Cardinals won’t be battling for a conference title, they’ll get a sample of the SLC with games against Central Arkansas, Sam Houston State and Southeastern Louisiana.
“Those were the top three teams in the Southland last year,” Kennan said. “We’ll be severely tested.”
By Pat Turner, For the Express-News