Southeastern concludes 2020-21 fall football practice

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Southeastern Wraps Up 2020-21 Fall Practice

HAMMOND, La. – The Southeastern Louisiana football team closed out its fall practice preparations for the spring 2021 season on Monday evening at Strawberry Stadium.

The fall practice session replaced the normal spring practice with the competition season being postponed until spring. The Lions went through 15 practices since fall workouts opened on Oct. 12.

Southeastern head coach Frank Scelfo is pleased with the progress he’s seen from his team over the past month-plus.

“Our competitive character developed during this time,” Scelfo commented. “We graduated a strong senior class from last season, so we had to figure out who was going to step up into leadership roles and who we were going to be as a football team.”

Scelfo felt like he had a better feel for his team following fall practice, as some of his questions heading into the workouts were answered. SLU is replacing three starting offensive linemen from last year’s high-powered attack, including a pair of All-Southland Conference players in Pat Allen and Jarius Gooch.

“Our offensive line was more solid and consistent throughout fall practice,” Scelfo commented. “Jalen Bell, Drew Jones and Rendon Miles-Character were really steady for us all fall. Wyatt (Richthofen), John (Allen), Dom (Serapiglia) and Tyree (Rhodes) all have been competing hard and improving our depth up front.”

Perhaps the strength of the Lion offense is the receiving corps. 2019 leading receivers CJ Turner (78 catches, 963 yards, 7 touchdowns) and Austin Mitchell (57-896-8 TD) both return, but are hardly the only pass-catching weapons for SLU coming out of fall camp.

“CJ and Austin are two guys who we know what they can do and we can’t say enough good things about what they mean to our football team,” Scelfo said. “Nick Kovacs fit in immediately and changes the dynamics of our offense. Ed Magee and Anthony Spurlock didn’t play a lot for us last year, but both had really good falls and give us more quality options at wideout.”

The Lions are also replacing a multi-time all-conference tight end in Bransen Schwebel and were missing an injured Matt DeBlaiso this fall. Scelfo saw a lot of new faces take advantage of increased reps at the tight end position.

“It’s unfortunate we didn’t have Matt with us this fall,” Scelfo said. “But newcomers like Nic McTear, Connor Briggs and Ivan Drobocky all developed by taking advantage of those increased reps and are going to benefit from that in the long run.”

Southeastern is also replacing All-Southland quarterback Chason Virgil, though Cole Kelley, who led the team with 10 rushing touchdowns in 2019, is back after seeing plenty of action under center. Kelley and Cephus Johnson III, a transfer from South Alabama, are SLU’s top options to engineer the offense.

“Cole and Cephus both give us a chance to win,” Scelfo said. “We didn’t see the consistency from either of them this fall where they were able to separate themselves and take the reins. They’re both good leaders and did good things this fall, but we want to see both of them perform on a more consistent basis. Those guys have the talent to be great at the quarterback position. If we’re great at that spot, the sky’s the limit for this team.”

Throughout the fall, Scelfo has touted the improvement in the secondary. Led by All-American Ferlando Jordan, the SLU defensive backs have taken major strides since the end of the 2019 season.

“We weren’t sound and unprepared on the back end last season and that was something we knew we needed to address,” Scelfo commented. “We did that through recruiting and development. Ferlando did a great job as a leader for that group and we’re excited to have Matt Wright back from injury. Donniel Ward-Magee and Jaylin Armwood both had good falls and we were really pleased with (newcomers) Blayne Delahoussaye, Zy Aleander and Alphonso Taylor. We just have so many more options back there than we’ve had in the past.”

Depth in the linebacker corps also developed into a strength for the Lions in the fall.

“Linebacker has become a strength for us both on and off the field,” Scelfo stated. “With Alexis Ramos, Mike Mason, Herman Christophe, Gladar Huszar, Arlen Williams and Dominic Lamm, we feel good about where we are depth-wise at linebacker. We had to throw some of those young guys into the fire last year and we’re reaping the benefits of that experience now.”

Scelfo has also been pleased how players have developed into leadership roles this fall.

“Ferlando, (Alexis) Ramos and (Mike) Mason have all really stepped up as leaders for us,’ Scelfo said. “We’ve seen CJ Turner, Drew Jones and Rendon Miles-Character become our offensive leaders. Those guys have really embraced all the demanding changes we’ve gone through – no spring practice and the fall season being postponed to spring.”

Spring practice preparations for the season will begin January 15.

“The maturity of our football team will be evident during the period from Thanksgiving until we get back in January,” Scelfo said. “It’s going to be on our guys to condition and doing the things necessary to stay healthy. I believe we’re mature enough as a team to make the right decisions and come back in January ready to hit the ground running. It’s critical, because if we come back and we have to get them ready from a physical or mental stand point, we’re going to be behind where we need to be.”

SLU is scheduled to open its six-game, conference-only spring schedule on Feb. 27 at Sam Houston State. The Lions host McNeese on March 6 at Strawberry Stadium to open their home slate.

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