A season of Mid-South Conference behind them, the Cumberland Bulldogs will get a look at their future today when they take on future Great Midwest Athletic Conference rival Alderson-Broaddus in Philippi, W. Va.
The Battlers are a first-year program in NCAA Division II, a level Cumberland is beginning the process of joining. They are 4-5 this season following a season of junior-varsity football under veteran coach Dennis Creehan, who has a background in the Canadian Football League in addition to U.S. colleges. He broke into college coaching as a graduate assistant under Johnny Majors at Pittsburgh in 1974.
“He’s done a great job of getting those guys ready to play this year,” said Cumberland coach Donnie Suber, whose first Bulldogs team will wrap up what he hopes will be a 7-4 season in the noon CST game.
His time in the CFL, with its bigger fields and wide-open style, has influenced Creehan back in West Virginia.
“They’re mainly a spread,” Suber said. “He’s taken his Canadian stuff and adapted it to college.”
Alderson-Broaddus is the second straight young program the Bulldogs have faced. They beat Reinhardt on the road 40-28 last week.
“We were just very fortunate last week in that we got a bunch of turnovers and were able to jump on them real quick,” Suber said. “But this is a little bit different because [Alderson-Broaddus] did play a JV schedule. They’ve played an outside schedule and they are Division II.
“They’ve played everybody tough. They played Lenoir-Rhyne, which is 18th in Division II in the country last week. They held them for a while. Experience took over for Lenoir-Rhyne [in a 62-24 triumph in Hickory, N.C.].”
The Bulldogs endured an 8-1/2-hour bus ride to Philippi, located just south of Morgantown. A win might make the return trip just a little bit shorter.
“Our seniors have won at least seven every year since they’ve been here, so it’ll be big to get this last one,” Suber said.
This season has been a good one for the orthopedic surgeons who treat Bulldog athletes. Left guard Riley Cathey, cornerback Devaris Mosley and wide receiver Courtland Styles Jr., who tore his LCL last week, won’t play today. Watertown’s Nick Lennox, a defensive end, played with a herniated disc in his back while defensive tackle Devin Guthrie has a six-inch tear in his labrum and will have surgery after Thanksgiving, Suber said. Cornerback Josh Walker is playing with a torn rotator cuff.
“We’re taped up and ready to play,” Suber said. “We’ve had 20 surgeries this year, or will be close to 20. It’s over 16 right now.”