Hounds start division play
Published: Saturday, September 24th, 2005
Two weeks ago, things weren’t looking too good for the Eastern New Mexico University Greyhounds. The Greyhounds were coming off solid spankings at the hands of Central Arkansas (51-0) and Southeastern Oklahoma (28-12), and their streak of seven consecutive winning seasons appeared in jeopardy. Now the Hounds have won twice to pull back to .500, and the outlook has improved as they prepare to begin Lone Star Conference South Division play in a 1 p.m. (MDT) start on Saturday at Abilene Christian. First-year Hounds head coach Mark Ribaudo knows the team still has its work cut out, though — the seven-team South has rolled up a 20-4 record and, at 2-2, the Hounds have the only non-winning record. “We’re excited,” Ribaudo said. “We’re facing six great teams (in the South) and then an arch-rival (Western New Mexico) to finish it off. We just hope to keep improving every week.” Like the Hounds, Abilene Christian (2-1) is coming off consecutive LSC crossover victories. The Wildcats, who lost a 49-37 shootout against Central Oklahoma in their opener, have edged Northeastern State 20-14 in overtime and Texas A&M-Commerce 27-18 in the past two weeks. Chris Thomsen, an Abilene Christian alum, took over the program this season after spending the last two years as the offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at Central Arkansas. “I’m going to bring the same style of offense with me that we played at Central Arkansas,” Thomsen said when he was hired to replace Gary Gaines last spring. “A lot of kids will have a chance to contribute to what we want to do. … The style of offense is up-tempo and very aggressive.” Junior defensive back-return specialist Danieal Manning has been one of the LSC’s top players over the past couple of years, and continued that trend last week. Less than two minutes into the game, he returned a punt 57 yards for a touchdown — the sixth special teams TD of his career. “He’s a special player,” said Ribaudo, adding that he thinks it’s the best Wildcats team he’s seen in some time. “They did a good job of recruiting (this) year,” he said. “Their defense is really good. They’re loaded with speed and some really good athletes.” Ribaudo admits wins over Southwestern Oklahoma and, last week, East Central have helped the Hounds’ psyche as they prepare for what he called “Murderer’s Row.” “It’s a matter of who’s left standing,” he said of the South race. “No matter what happens (in the South) this weekend, they’re all good teams. Right now, the important thing is to try and find a way to give our kids an advantage against Abilene Christian. “It was nice to win. We’ve been showing steady improvement in different areas every week — not dramatic, but steady.” ENMU at Abilene Christian 1 p.m. (MDT) today at Abilene, Texas Records: ENMU 2-2 (0-0 Lone Star Conference South), Abilene Christian 2-1 (0-0). Radio: KSEL-FM 95.3. On the Web: www.enmu.edu/athletics. Coaches: ENMU, Mark Ribaudo, 1st year; Abilene Christian, Chris Thomsen, 1st year. Last meeting: 2004, the Greyhounds ended a five-game losing streak against the Wildcats, beating Abilene Christian 28-21 at Blackwater Draw. Abilene Christian players to watch: Danieal Manning, 6-0, 205, Jr., DB-RS; Rashon Myles, 6-2, 225, Sr., RB; Jerale Badon, 5-7, 170, So., WR; Rob Spells, 6-2, 185, Sr., WR; Joe Edwards, 6-3, 280, Jr., DT; Charles Mock, 6-4, 305, Sr., OT; Clayton Farrell, 6-4, 275, Sr., DE. Quotable: “This is probably one of the better ACU teams we’ve seen in a while.” — Ribaudo.
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