New team, same winning attitude for the ‘Necks

Karl Phipps

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It wasn’t a pretty game, but somehow the Leatherneck football team still managed to get off to a good start with their first victory of the 1998 season.As the defending Gateway Conference champions, the ‘Necks saw how difficult it will be to try to repeat the success they had last season Thursday night.

Against St. Cloud State University, the ‘Necks seemed a little bit rusty in their first game in over eight months.

Fans at Hanson Field noticed a different ‘Neck team as they took the field in quest of bringing back the excitement and winning atmosphere of last season’s championship team.

Despite playing without their star running back, Aaron Stecker, who was out with a knee injury, the ‘Necks prevailed.

Instead of all eyes being on Stecker, the focal player was Ty Kingsby, senior running back. The 6-foot-1-inch, 200-pounder rushed for 116 yards on 18 carries and scored three touchdowns.

Kingsby, who was hampered with injuries last season, made up for it Thursday and surprised everybody with his quick speed and athleticism.

Eric Rodgers, junior running back, and Ephron Crump, senior running back, joined forces and helped lead the offensive attack for the ‘Necks.

Rodgers rushed for 56 yards on 10 carries while Crump rambled his way through with 75 yards on 14 carries. Bobby Rucka, junior fullback, played a huge role as well.

Those four players stepped up and showed leadership for a team which still has a few hurdles to overcome. There were some new faces, particularly on the ‘Neck offensive line, to help bolster the team after the loss of some key players.

New quarterback Mark Zanders had a sub-par performance in his first start as a ‘Neck. He completed only 8-of-17 passes for 54 yards. But, hey give him some time and he could surprise a few people and become one of the best quarterbacks out of the Gateway this season.

There are still a few questions which Randy Ball, head coach, and his staff will have to answer before next week’s game, but let’s enjoy the fact that it’s a brand-new season of ‘Neck football.

It may be a brand-new team, but the ‘Necks still carry that same winning attitude no matter what barriers they have in front of them.

Go Leathernecks!!!

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