The Savage Storm is an interesting team headed into the 2014 football season.
Northeastern State brought in Rob Robinson, who spent many years as an assistant at Washburn University in Topeka, Kan. NEO A&M has a new lead man who is not new to Oklahoma. Ryan Held, head coach of the Norsemen, also led the Southwestern Bulldogs and Oklahoma Panhandle Aggies.
Southeastern has hired Bo Atterberry, a Southeastern alum and former defensive coordinator, who has served twice in that capacity for the Storm, most recently last year. Atterberry was the head coach at Texas A&M-Kingsville for six seasons and compiled a 41-28 record and two trips to the D-II playoffs. Atterberry will try to stop a four year streak of losing seasons – the longest stretch of its kind at SOSU since 1978-1985.
A high profile move comes with the OU Sooners where Trevor Knight was named the starting QB for 2014. Blake Bell, who started eight games for Oklahoma at quarterback last season, will be playing tight end his senior year.
The other school to see such a move is Southeastern. Nick Sioson started all 11 games last season with the second best single season passing mark in school history. He also threw for 20 touchdowns and set the record for completions. Following numbers like that, the Storm must really think they have something in junior college transfer Ryan Polite.
Polite was an NJCAA All-American at Trinity Valley CC and the Region Player of the Year. At DeSoto High School, he became just the ninth player in Texas high school history to surpass 10,000 passing yards.
Central brings back senior Marquez Clark, who rewrote the Bronchos record book last season and caught 82 passes for 1,348 yards.
Bacone junior David Chapman returns following a year with 40 receptions for 1,078 yards.
SOSU senior Anthony Foster has 75 catches for 1,036 yards in 2013. But he wasn’t alone. The Storm also return sophomore Kayman Farmer, who had 77 receptions for 751 yards. The pair combined for 11 receiving touchdowns. Polite shouldn’t be hurting for targets to find.
If there is no other reason to watch the Storm (Storms?) play this season, it is that there is one additional game to try to get to.
The interesting question with this number is that almost every school in the Great American Conference and the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association plays a schedule that includes teams that play every team and only every other team on that schedule. It would seem that determining strength of schedule for playoff purposes might be a challenge.
Of course, Sioson will be in a new role for the Storm. Foster is ready for one more year. And Wortham was the GAC Freshman of the Year in 2013. He won’t be a surprise to any team this season, but with a team that can show a balanced attack of running and passing, he should have an opportunity to match or exceed his numbers in 2013.
The most important thing for the Storm is to limit turnovers. The offensive numbers from 2013 were impressive, but the 2-8 record was not. The 33 turnovers lost (18 interceptions and 15 fumbles) ranked SOSU at 156 of 166 D-II teams in that category.
If Southeastern can control the ball, the pieces seem to be in place for the Storm to control its destiny.