Clarion U. Football Stepping Up a Class Thursday at Tenn.-Martin


MARTIN, Tenn. – The Clarion University football team will tackle a large challenge in its 2017 season opener when it travels south to take on NCAA FCS Tennessee Martin at 6 p.m. Thursday.

(Photo: Kyle Evans. Photo courtesy of Clarion University Athletics)

Game 1 // Clarion Golden Eagles (0-0, 0-0 PSAC West) at UT Martin Skyhawks (0-0, 0-0 OVC)
Thursday, August 31 // 7 p.m. ET // Martin, Tenn. // Hardy M. Graham Stadium (7,500)

Live Stats // Live Video (OVC Digital Network) // Live Audio

Clarion Game Notes // UT Martin Game Notes

Two-Minute Drill

  • The Clarion Golden Eagles kick off their 91st season of varsity football on the road when they take on the UT Martin Skyhawks of Division I FCS
  • The last time Clarion faced off against an FCS opponent was in 2014 when they played against Saint Francis
  • Clarion returns 12 players who started six or more games last year — eight on defense and four on offense
  • Junior offensive lineman Zack Morris  was a Don Hansen Football Gazette All-Super Region 1 selection in 2016, and was one of only two Clarion offensive linemen to start every game last year
  • Junior Kyle Evans will move back to his natural position of tailback after playing primarily slot receiver and amassing nearly 1,000 all-purpose yards in 2016
  • Clarion is expected to start junior Asianttii Woulard at quarterback in the season opener.  Woulard is a transfer from USF and a former four-star recruit out of high school
  • An extremely young team in 2017, the Golden Eagles have 31 players with either freshman or sophomore eligibility on their offensive and defensive two-deep chart
  • Junior defensive lineman Tyrone Archie led the Golden Eagles with 5.5 total sacks last year and has 12.0 sacks over this first two years
  • Head coach Chris Weibel enters his third season as head coach of the Golden Eagles with an 11-11 record overall
  • Clarion has once again renewed its fruitful partnership with Sports Fever and will have two games televised locally and streamed nationally on ESPN3 – 9/23 vs. Mercyhurst and 9/30 at Edinboro
  • Starting in 2017, all five Golden Eagle home contests will be available as free web streams via ClarionGoldenEagles.com

The Lead
The Clarion Golden Eagles kick off their 91st season of varsity football with a road game against a Division I FCS opponent, when they travel to take on the UT Martin Skyhawks at Hardy M. Graham Stadium.  This will be the first ever meeting between the two teams.

Mike Kalinowski and Joe Lodanosky will have the radio call for the game on 92.9 WCCR-FM and  96.3 WKQW-FM an hour before kickoff.  Live audio streaming will be available via the C93 website and linked on the schedule at ClarionGoldenEagles.com.

Scouting the Skyhawks
A member of the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) in Division I FCS, the Skyhawks are coming off a season in which they finished with an overall record of 7-5.  They took second in the OVC with a 6-2 record, behind only undefeated Jacksonville State, and this year were predicted to finish second again in the preseason poll.  They were especially tough at home, boasting a 5-0 record in Martin.

Senior quarterback Troy Cook was recently named to the preseason watch list for the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) FCS National Performer of the Year trophy.  He racked up 2,321 yards passing and 22 touchdowns last year and ranked near the top of the nation in most major passing categories.

About the Coach
Chris Weibel enters his third season as the program’s head coach after spending many of the previous years as an assistant.  Weibel has an overall record of 11-11 at Clarion, including a 7-7 record in PSAC West play.  A 2010 inductee into the Clarion Sports Hall of Fame, Weibel graduated with every major Clarion passing record to his credit.

Last Season
Clarion is coming off a 2016 season in which they compiled a 4-7 overall record and a 3-4 record in PSAC West competition. Things improved as the season went on, with the Golden Eagles winning two of their final three games despite mounting injuries and adversity. Clarion defeated Slippery Rock to win the “Milk Jug Game” for the first time since the rivalry’s inception.

Quarterback Connor Simmons broke the program’s record for career touchdown passes while receiver Kevin Genevro became only the third player in program history to top 1,000 yards in a season. Four players earned All-PSAC West honors, including three first-teamers in Genevro, Zack Morris and Scott Ayers.

Weibel Names Captains
Head coach Chris Weibel named his two offensive and two defensive captains for the 2017 on Saturday, Aug. 26. Quarterback Asiantii Woulard and offensive lineman Zack Morris will represent the offense, while defensive back Colton McKay and linebacker Avery Howsare represent the defense.

Who’s Gone?
The Golden Eagles will have to find a way to replace 10 players who started six or more games a season ago, and that issue is illustrated most clearly by the offensive skill positions.  Head coach Chris Weibel must find a way to make up for the graduation of a starting quarterback, running back, tight end and top two receivers from last year, as well as a number of offensive linemen.

Who’s Back?
Conversely, the 2017 Golden Eagle defense returns all but three starters from a year ago, and those lost have been replaced by talented second-year players. Three of the team’s four seniors — Myles Edmonds, Avery Howsare and Colton McKay — will provide veteran leadership for the rest of the unit. On offense, junior offensive lineman and 2016 All-Super Region 1 selection Zack Morris will be Clarion’s anchor in the trenches.

Clarion Picked Seventh in Preseason Poll
In a coaches’ poll before the start of the year, Clarion was predicted to finish seventh in the PSAC West division in 2017.

PSAC West (# of 1st place votes)
1) IUP (6)
2) California (2)
3) Slippery Rock
4) Edinboro
5) Gannon
6) Seton Hill
7) Clarion
8) Mercyhurst

Lights, Camera, Action!
Clarion University will continue its fruitful partnership with the Pennsylvania Sports Fever Television Network in 2017, with two contests – 9/9 vs. Bloomsburg and 9/30 at Edinboro – airing live on affiliates across the state of Pennsylvania and made available to millions in the Keystone State.  The selected games will also be streamed on ESPN3 via the Watch ESPN app.

Eagle Media to Stream Clarion Home Games
In a joint venture between Eagle Media Productions and the athletic department, all Clarion home football games in 2017 will be available via free video streaming.  Viewers will be able to access the video streams via the schedule page on ClarionGoldenEagles.com.

Kyle’s Song
Kyle Evans made a name for himself last year, posting nearly 1,000 all-purpose yards as he earned work at slot receiver, kick and punt returner, and even some time at running back.  Evans figures to be the feature running back for the Golden Eagles in 2017.  His best game in the backfield came against IUP on Oct. 22, 2016, when he rushed for 112 yards and a touchdown on just 14 carries.

Hold the Line

Clarion should feature a strong defensive line in 2017, with five key players from last year’s rotation taking the field again. Tyrone Archie put up the gaudiest numbers on the defensive line with 5.5 total sacks and Brandon Voccoled all his colleagues on the line with 51 total tackles. However, the play of Saif Khan (3.0 sacks) and Robert Zilhaver (2.5 sacks) down the stretch truly made it a formidable unit.

Alec Heldreth, a transfer from Lake Erie that played in 19 games and notched seven sacks in that time, is a fresh face that will add some muscle to the unit. Another newcomer is Shyquan Barnes, a redshirt freshman converted from linebacker that figures to earn time.

Quarterback Battle

The competition for the starting quarterback position has been a fierce one, with faces old and new all trying to seize the spot left vacant by Connor Simmons.

Returning from last year is sophomore Jeff Clemsn, who started four games in Simmons’ absence last year and acquitted himself well.  Challenging him for the spot is Asiantii Woulard, a former four-star prospect that enjoyed stops at UCLA and South Florida before coming to Clarion.  He ranked as the top dual-threat high school quarterback in the country in 2012.

What’s the Catch?

One of the biggest questions facing the Golden Eagles this year is the wide receiver position, as Clarion has to replace two all-time greats in Matt Lehman Matt Lehman and Kevin Genevro. They combined for 215 catches, 3,544 yards and 43 touchdowns from 2015-16, with each setting program records along the way.

One such players could be sophomore Greg Leonard. He earned more opportunities from the coaching staff as the 2016 season went on, taking on kick return duties and more looks in the passing game. He finished the year with 24 grabs for 230 yards and two scores.

What’s Next
The Golden Eagles return home for three consecutive home dates, starting with a home game against Bloomsburg on Saturday, Sept. 9.  Kickoff time is scheduled for 1 p.m.


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