Editor's note: This is the final in a series of articles previewing the teams the Northeastern A&M Golden Norsemen play during the 2008 football season.
TYLER, Texas - After ending last season with a three-game winning streak, Tyler Junior College second year head coach Danny Palmer hopes the momentum will carry over to 2008.
The Apaches conclude the regular season by hosting the Northeastern A&M Golden Norsemen at 2 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 1, in the fabled Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
Last season the Apaches finished fifth in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference with a 3-3 record and 5-4 overall.
Against the Golden Norsemen last season, jubilation quickly turned to extreme frustration in the final 30 minutes as NEO saw a 24-0 halftime lead evaporate during a 41-34 loss to the Apaches at Robertson Field.
Facing a 4th-and-31 situation, NEO quarterback Bo Bowling launched a pass towards the endzone. Like buzzards circling a kill, four NEO receivers and four Tyler defenders converged to the spot where the ball was coming down.
After skipping through the hands of Tyler defenders Jason Teague and Jacolby Reed and NEO's wide out Kevin Radford, the ball hit the hands of Golden Norse receiver Dee Williams at the 4-yard line.
As he turned toward the goal line Williams failed to secure the football and it fluttered to the ground as an incomplete pass.
The Golden Norsemen generated 428 yards in total offense that included 214 yards rushing and 214 yards passing. Bowling led all rushers with 140 yards on 28 carries while Jeremiah Sampson contributed 64 yards on eight carries. Bowling completed 7 of 20 passes for 161 yards and three TDs with two interceptions.
Tyler accumulated 438 yards in total offense. Tailback Chris Davis led the Apaches ground game with 132 yards on 27 carries and three TDs. Quarterback Steven Schwark added 26 yards on three carries while completing 17 of 30 passes for 260 yards and one TD.
Heading into preseason, the Apaches were picked fifth in the coaches poll which was a couple notches ahead of last year's predicted finish of last.
“If our quarterback (returner Steven Schwark) stays healthy and plays well, we will be a very good football team,” Palmer said. “If he plays average, we will be average.
“The Apaches appear to be much better and stronger in 2008, due to a very good signing day,” Palmer said. “After all, we were listed as an ‘other' school in the NJCAA/JC Football.com preseason poll.”
Schwark (6-2, 210 of Mesquite, Texas) completed 87 of 166 passes for 1,241 yards and seven touchdowns with eight interceptions. He rushed for 46 yards on 32 carries.
Veteran tailback Ira Duckworth (6-0, 185 of Houston, Texas) is expected to return at tailback. Duckworth rushed for 522 yards on 114 carries and seven TDs.
TJC is huge across the offensive line with the likes of Jessie Green (6-4, 275 of Mount Pleasant, Texas), Fonda White (6-3, 275 of San Antonio, Texas), Keenan Woods (6-2, 265 of Mesquite, Texas), Ryan Taylor (6-2, 280 of Denison, Texas), Phillip Blake (6-6, 290 of Galena Park, Texas) and Chris Brunson (6-3, 280 of Tyler).
“They all have NCAA Division I ability and they are all nearly 300-plus pounds, and nasty as a rattlesnake,” Palmer said.
Palmer added former Lee player John Flanagan (6-0, 270 of Marshall, Texas), a deep-snapper, is a D-I prospect.
Also, he moved ex-defensive end Jonathan Hatton (5-11, 275 of Tyler) (five sacks last year) inside.
“We may not be the biggest defense, but we will be quicker than any junior college team around,” Palmer said.
One area of concern was last year's defense that allowed teams to consistently convert on third down.
Palmer said the Apaches will try to improve on those statistics this year.
Tyler's defensive secondary returns in tact led by cornerbacks Charlie Glenn and Jason Teague along with safeties Calvin Rubles and Jacolby Reed.
Glenn (5-9, 160 of Dallas, Texas) recorded 34 total tackles with two interceptions.
Teague ((6-0, 170 of Carthage, Texas) led the Apaches with three interceptions while making 34 total tackles.
Rubles (6-2, 180 of Dallas, Texas) led the secondary with 56 total tackles at free safety.
Reed (5-10, 170 of Houston, Texas) made 50 total tackles with three quarterback sacks for minus-19 yards.
“I think we will be better,” he said. “We will be stronger and after being out of the playoffs three straight years, our goals have changed. We want to be in the playoffs.”
Tyler opens the season Aug. 30 against Independence (Kan.) at Lindale High School's Eagle Stadium.