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Belhaven-CU on starting line of MSC West race
Sep 15, 2012 12:00 am
By ANDY REED
Belhaven and Cumberland are coming off losses, and the Blazers have yet to scratch the win column in 2012. But Saturday marks the start of the real season in a sense.
The 1:30 p.m. kickoff at Nokes-Lasater Field marks the Mid-South Conference West Division opener for both teams.
"You never want to over-react to a loss, but you never want to under-react, either," Cumberland coach Dewayne Alexander said of his Bulldogs' 55-13 loss to University of the Cumberlands, which beat Belhaven 21-10 a week earlier. "There's got to be that fine line between both. We've addressed the things that needed to be addressed this week in practice.
"We're 0-0 in West Division play. In order to have any chance at the playoffs, you need to win your conference. The first goal we have on our board as a team is to be a conference-championship team."
Belhaven lost to Louisiana College 24-13 last week. But Alexander said the Blazers are also starting with a clean slate in division play.
"As usual, Belhaven is a very talented team, very athletic," Alexander said. "At their place last year, it was a big game, one we needed to win to win the conference and they beat us. They're a team we've had some very close ballgames with over the last few years... They always have excellent receivers, two good running backs. They have a huge offensive line. Big quarterback, 6-5, 235. Both their quarterbacks [Raymond Cotton and Alex Williams] are big guys who run the ball well.
"Defensively, they're very big up front, good defensive front. Very athletic in the secondary. They have an excellent kicker [James Bryan]; he kicked off every time last week through the end zone. They're averaging over 45 yards a punt."
Belhaven was very good at home and no so good on the road last year. But Alexander said the distance from Jackson, Miss., and Lebanon is just over six hours, one of the shorter trips the Blazers will make in the MSC.
"They have so far to travel, but this is not a long trip for them," Alexander said. "They have some 12- and 14-hour bus trips they have to take.
"They'll be in here [this afternoon] and I don't think that will be an issue for them or a reason that they won't play well Saturday... [And] they have beaten us here; they beat us [at Lindsey Donnell Stadium] in overtime in 2009 7-6."
On the injury front, Alexander said tight end Ryan Slack dressed last week and has practiced this week to rejoin a healthy lineup.
Sports Editor Andy Reed can be reached at 444-3952, ext. 17; or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org