Editor's note: This is the fourth in a series of articles previewing the teams the Northeastern A&M Golden Norsemen play during the 2008 football season.
CISCO, Texas - Following a trip to Little Rock, Ark., Sept. 27 for a non-conference rematch with Arkansas Baptist, the Northeastern A&M Golden Norsemen resume Southwest Junior College Football Conference action on Oct. 4 with a 3 p.m. contest at Cisco, Texas.
Under the guidance of third-year head coach and athletic director John Parchman, the Cisco Wranglers continue their rebuilding process.
During Parchman's first season, the Wranglers finished second in the SWJCFC at 6-4 which was their first winning season since 1997.
Last year the Wranglers posted a 7-3 overall record and were ranked 16th in the final NJCAA/JC Football. com poll.
Cisco finished in a three-way tie with Navarro and Blinn for second with a 4-2 conference mark.
“We feel like we've got our program headed in the right direction,” Parchman said. “Last spring we had a real productive series of workouts and we expect our sophomores to step up and continue our successful climb.”
While the Golden Norsemen hold a 20-6 advantage in the series that began in 1975, the Wranglers are on a two-game winning streak.
Amassing 700 yards in total offense, Cisco rolled to a 46-36 victory over NEO last season at Robertson Field.
The SWJCFC leading rusher, Jacques Crawford, generated 271 yards on 34 carries and scoring two touchdowns to lead the Wranglers ground game.
There's only one returning starter from an offense that averaged 398.8 yards last season: right guard Dimitri Lott (6-3, 293 of Houston, Texas).
“We're definitely in a rebuilding mode with our offensive unit,” Parchman said. “You can't graduate the nation's leading rusher (Crawford had 1,933 yards) and not have to make some changes.”
Returning in the Wranglers backfield are backs Dwayne Stewart, Jerrard Milsap and Jonathon Craig. Stewart (6-0, 210 of Spring, Texas( rushed for 113 yards on 11 carries and one TD as a freshman. Milsap (5-11, 180 of Copperas Cove, Texas) gained 58 yards on 13 carries while Craig (5-11, 190 of San Antonio, Texas) rushed for 45 yards on 18 carries.
Following the graduation of Andrew Mellencamp, the Wranglers are expected to alternate Cameron Wynn and Tate Smith at quarterback.
Wynn (6-2, 210 of Spring, Texas) completed 16 of 34 passes for 210 yards and one touchdown with four interceptions.
Smith (6-2, 195 of Odessa Permian, Texas) completed 12 of 30 passes for 129 yards and one TD.
“Both of these guys battled real hard during the spring,” Parchman said. “It will be interesting to see which one steps to be the leader during fall's preseason.”
Craig caught 14 passes for 260 yards and four touchdowns as the lone returning receiver for the Wranglers.
Five sophomore starters return on the Cisco defensive unit which yielded an average of 323.4 total yards per game.
Veteran defensive tackle Quentin Taylor (6-3, 290 of San Marcos, Texas) recorded 39 total tackles and five quarterback sacks for minus-36 yards as a freshman starter.
Returning at linebacker is Dwayne Baziel (6-3, 230 of Galveston, Texas). Last season Baziel compiled 27 total tackles and one quarterback sack for minus-11 yards.
Cornerbacks Mark Kinney and Kel Hines along with veteran safety Jamaal Washington comprise the Wranglers secondary.
Kinney (6-2, 200 of San Antonio) recorded 41 total tackles last season while Hines (6-0, 210 of Carthage, Texas) made 16 total tackles.
Washington (5-11, 220 of Mesquite, Texas) led the secondary with 53 total tackles and three interceptions.