CISCO, Texas - Concluding a two-game road trip Saturday, Northeastern A&M's Golden Norsemen make the 427-mile trek to Cisco for a 3 p.m. Southwest Junior College Football Conference showdown with the Cisco Wranglers at Chesley Field.
“It feels good to get a win under our belt,” Golden Norse head coach Rob Green said. “Our next objective is to try and string several wins together.”
After earning a 39-13 victory at Arkansas Baptist College last weekend, the Golden Norse stand 1-1 in the SWJCFC and 1-3 on the season.
NEO returns home Oct. 11 for a 3 p.m. confrontation with No. 1 ranked Navarro College.
“Should things pan out this weekend, we could wind up in a tie for second place in the conference,” Green said. “So this thing is a long ways from being over.”
Third-year head coach John Parchman's Wranglers are 0-2 in the conference and 1-3 on the year after two straight winning seasons. Last weekend the Wrangers dropped a 47-13 decision at Trinity Valley in Athens, Texas.
“Every team has a distinct personality and Cisco's revolves around being hard nosed,” Green said. “They are a run-oriented offense and are one of few teams that still line up in an I formation with the quarterback under center.
“Even though they are pretty effective running the football, they don't have the ‘showcase' runner they did in (Jaques) Crawford last season,” Green said. “That's how they wear down a defense with three different runners and three different running styles.”
Over the past four weeks, NEO has been going through a maturation process with their offense. Last week in the victory over Arkansas Baptist, the Golden Norse generated 478 yards in total offense.
Freshman quarterback Trey Munden earned SWJCFC Offensive Player of the Week after completing 17 of 21 for 200 yards and two TDs with one interception against Arkansas Baptist. Munden (6-1, 205 of Verdigris) ranks fifth in the conference in passing efficiency by completing 56 of 96 passes for 737 yards and two touchdowns with seven interceptions. He has also rushed for 91 yards on 45 carries with one TD.
Sophomore wide receiver Colton Chelf (6-0, 180 of Enid) leads the conference with 20 receptions for 424 yards and one touchdown. Chelf has also returned six punts for 60 yards and one TD.
“We were able to consistently control the ball for more than 80 snaps last week,” Green said. “That kept our defense off the field and fresh.
“Thus far our running schemes have been getting more effective,” Green said. “We're using our running game to open up our passing attack.”
Cardell Clemens (6-0, 200 of Glenpool), who originally had signed with Pittsburg State University, leads the Golden Norse ground game. Clemens ranks second in the SWJCFC with 452 yards on 91 carries and five touchdowns. He has caught four passes for 40 yards.
“Cisco's defense is a typical Texas defense,” Green said. “They have a lot of size up front, some speed at the linebacker's positions and a ‘get in your face' secondary.”
While Cisco has a youthful defensive unit, the Golden Norse defense features eight sophomores in their starting lineup. NEO features seven of the top 10 defenders in the conference.
All three Golden Norse linebackers are at the top of the SWJCFC in total tackles led by sophomore Robert Spann with 52 tackles. Johnny Row has contributed 46 total tackles while Randy Tonche has made 45 total stops.
“Our defense is in good shape,” Green said. “If you eliminated three busted plays last week, we could have pitched a shutout.
“Our kids have really bought into coach Rhat's (defensive coordinator Travis Rhatigan) schemes and are executing them more and more each week,” Green said. “We've just got to work on the mental mistakes that lead to big plays.”