The South Central region is still reeling from the addition of Colorado and Wyoming. Regional powerhouse University of Texas has been trumped by the University of Colorado and it doesn’t look like that will change anytime this season. With the top team looking outside the region for comparable competition leaving the rest to duke it out at tournaments like Mardi Gras, Free State Classic, Centex and Huck Finn where many teams will undoubtedly get key head-to-head games that will determine placement for conference and regional competition. With Calvin Lin of TUFF acting as Open College Director it will be a surprise if Regionals was not in Austin this year. A theme for this region is roster turnover, the teams that can successfully get underclassmen to perform early or teams that didn’t lose many to graduation should be in a postion to make a push this year.
Prediction: South Central Region will produce three bids to nationals with the blue bloods punching their tickets. Talk of ‘Mickle for Callahan’ starts some time in late February.
Colorado – Mamabird had a relatively quiet Fall season with a loss in Quarterfinals of MLC to Minnesota. NexGen and Johnny Bravo standout Jimmy Mickle has unquestionably some of the best pulls in the country (at any level), they will always be a threat for the title, but they will have to battle losing a strong graduating class. “We have had pretty big roster turnover,” said Mickle “[we] lost big contributors like Hylke Sneider, Matty Zemel, Jack McShane and Marty Freeman. But we have had a lot of younger players really stepping up… Juniors Stu Barnes and Todd Wolma look to lead the D line, along with Senior and Bravo Player Gabe Stump.” No matter who is on the line, expect their best. Attribute that to their high elevation training and coaching from Big Jim Schoettler, who is back for the third year in a row. Mickle added,”We will definitely be working all season to peak at the right time, and be playing our best by the time the series rolls around. ” The College Championships are staying in Boulder for a second year, and you know they will be jacked to compete for the title that has eluded them for the better half of a decade in front of their home fans.
Los Aspirantes: (Listed in order of finish from 2011)
Texas – Coach Calvin Lin will be at the lead again going in to his 14th season (repeat 14th! Amazing.) with the help of Stephen ‘Franchise’ Prestley as asst. coach. Expect more of the same with Will Driscoll – shoe-in Nex Gen 2.0 player – leading the charge with a supporting cast of very capable squirrelly players. They will need a 2005 Vince Young like performance from Driscoll in order for this team to place better at nationals than last year, which is highly likely.
Colorado College – 2011’s Darkhorse. Will they be able to repeat their success without Nicky Spiva or Ezra on the team? Captains Josh Anderson, Dan Eppstein, and Alex Whiting will certainly try to make it back to Boulder. Wasabi has landed freshman and Junior Worlds player Amos Adams in addition to a bunch of athletic and experienced underclassmen. Again, they are battling skeptical TD’s as they are waiting to hear back from Centex, even though they won it last year and are going to try and limp in to the Stanford Invite by attending the Open. If they can sustain the amount of commitment and training it takes to be in the top level, don’t sleep, “we’re strongly leaning toward the D-I track again this year.”
Oklahoma – OU always has that one tall guy to throw it up to. With the departure of Mike Rice, one of the many underrated handlers on The Apes of Wrath, they will have to fill that void quickly to see any success in the series. Chilly Kevin Christian is more than capable to be that guy.
Texas State- Led by 6’7″ Will Tullos and coach for the past three years, Bjorn Schey. Texas State Bucket loses Danny Middleton and former captain Blake Knight. Expect Bucket to rise like a phoenix from the ashes with much more levity on the field than the past season. They always have a stable of jocks but lack the knowledge and focus to manufacture wins, this pattern will most likely repeat itself.
Wash U – Don’t expect to see Wash U repeat as Ozark Conference Champions this season. They took a huge hit from graduating seniors and notable star Evan Winograd has decided to forego his senior year of eligibility.
Kansas – The HorrorZontals always bounce back after a dismal year and last year was just that, earning themselves tenth place at regionals, their worst finish in their thirty year history. With a strong core back and one more year under their belts, and more attention to conditioning, look for KU to fight for one of the other spots left for Nationals. Zontal All-Region ’07 stand-out Joe Nickels is coaching the team this year, he will certainly bring improvement to the teams defensive-unit and a streamlined offense courtesy of Zontal Legend and Doublewide player Valley Renshaw who is acting in a consultant capacity. This team should be a force to be reckoned with.
Missouri – The MUtants had a good showing at their home tournament, Missouri Loves Company, this fall. Which puts them in a good position to build on for the spring season. Miz does a great job of getting guys to play into their systems plus a concerted effort to recruit talented athletes this year equals getting some upsets and maybe breaking into the national scene.
Arkansas – Matty Jackson and last years FOTY Abe ‘Froman’ Coffin will complement each other nicely. Expect them to play with a “chicks dig the long ball” philosophy.
Three of the top eight finishers in Buffalo came from the South Central, hopefully that trend continues.
Harding- Opting to play in Buffalo for D-III Nationals and losing to eventual champions Claremont Braineaters last season, expect them to make the same choice if given the opportunity. They lose athletic 6’2″ Tyler Samuel, who will be hard to replace. It should be pointed out that Harding alum Will Dockery has started a magazine exclusively following the Ozarks Conference. it’s a Digital subscription and costs $2.00.
Missouri S&T – Is in a total rebuilding year, don’t expect them to be making semi-finals of D-III again
Players to Watch:
- Jimmy Mickle – Colorado
- Jackson Kloor – Colorado
- Will Driscoll – Texas
- Aditya Yerrapragada – Texas
- Vinny – Kansas
- Alex “Gary” Garies – Kansas
- Amos Adams – Colorado College, freshman
- Matt Jackson – Arkansas