Southeastern opens fall practice on Wednesday
HAMMOND, La. – The Southeastern Louisiana football team will open preparations for the 2020 season when fall practice opens on Wednesday.
Southeastern will hold practices daily at 9 a.m. starting Wednesday with Sunday practices set for 3:30 p.m. The schedule will be in place until the fall semester starts on Monday, Aug. 17. Following the start of classes, the Lions will practice at 3:30 p.m. daily.
Third-year Southeastern head coach and reigning Southland Conference Coach of the Year Frank Scelfo is excited about the team’s prospects coming off a 2019 season in which the team finished 8-5 overall and advanced to the second round of the NCAA FCS playoffs.
“Everything has gone smooth since we returned to campus in July for workouts,” Scelfo said. “The majority of our players came back in great shape. Just like every other team, we missed the spring, but we’ve progressed well since we’ve been back on campus and have picked up things well.”
For Scelfo, the program’s improvement on the field from his first year to year two was due to the growth off the field.
“We were a better team last season because everyone was bought in to our culture,” Scelfo said. “Our goals are all team-oriented and we don’t have selfish players. We had some great leaders on last season’s team and we’re starting to see that same leadership emerge as the season grows closer.”
SLU featured one of the most prolific offices in the nation in 2019 and return its top three wide receivers from last season’s squad in CJ Turner, Austin Mitchell and Javon Conner, as well as a pair of senior starters on the offensive line in Rendon Miles-Character and Drew Jones. Senior Cole Kelley, who had 10 passing and 10 rushing touchdowns, in his debut season with the Lions, is also back at quarterback.
“We have some key pieces back, but we’ve also added some talent and we’re going to have competition at every position,” Scelfo said. “We have unselfish players on the offensive side of the ball and our guys understand if they can make plays we’re going to find a way to get the ball in their hands. We made some great strides as an offense last season, but now we want to take that progress a step further. We’re going to use fall camp to establish our offensive identity.”
The Lions return six starters on defense – All-American defensive back Ferlando Jordan, All-Southland Conference linebacker Alexis Ramos, preseason All-Southland defensive end Josh Carr Jr., defensive lineman Ronald Cherry III, linebacker Trae Drake and defensive back Donniel Ward-Magee.
Third-year assistant coach Chris Lachney is in his first season as defensive coordinator for the Lions. The Southeastern defense will be buoyed by the return of the return from injury of linebacker Mike Mason and defensive back Matthew Wright.
“We have more depth on the defensive side of the ball heading into this season,” Scelfo said. “We have three experienced guys in the secondary in Ferlando, Donniel and Matt, plus we expect players like Derek Turner II and Justin Douglas to benefit from a season of experience.
“We’ve gone from linebacker to being a question mark this time last year to it now being a position of strength,” Scelfo added. “Much like the secondary, we have three experienced guys back in Alexis, Trae and Mike, plus young guys who earned valuable reps last year in Gladar Huszar, Herman Christophe and Dominic Lamm.”
The preseason will be a chance for the Lions to become a team, according to Scelfo.
“We’ll know if this preseason has been a success by how well we come together as a team and how well our leadership emerges,” Scelfo commented. “Our program’s success is player-driven. Entering the season with a singular, united voice coming out of our locker room is critical.”
The Lions will open the 2020 season at Tulane on Sept. 3. Southeastern’s five-game home schedule is set to begin on Sept. 26, when SLU hosts Southland Conference rival McNeese at 6 p.m. at Strawberry Stadium.