The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

August 31, 2013

NEO visits Highland in season opener

— The Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College football team, again, is scheduled to open its season.

The 14th-ranked Golden Norsemen visit Highland (Kan.) Community College tonight with kickoff scheduled for 7 at Kessinger Field.

The contest also will mark the debut of Sherard Poteete as the NEO head coach.

The NEO opener originally was scheduled in Miami on Aug. 22 against Metropolitan University of Denver before the Roadrunners canceled.

Highland opened its campaign last week with a 48-31 win at Fort Scott.

Poteete, former NEO quarterback (992-93), joins the Golden Norsemen after serving two seasons as an assistant coach at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas.

Current NEO athletic director Dale Patterson, who coached Poteete with the Norsemen, stepped down last season after guiding the team to a Southwest Junior College Football Conference regular-season crown. They finished 9-3 overall and 13th in the rankings with closing losses to Navarro (Texas) in the postseason conference championship game and to College of DuPage (Ill.) in the Citizens Bank Bowl in Pittsburg.

Tonight’s game will mark the final one in the annual SWJCFC-Kansas Jayhawk Conference Challenge. NEO has a 4-3 record since the challenge began in 2006.

Highland, which finished 2-7 overall and 1-6 in the KJCCC last season, lost 36-12 at NEO.

Said Poteete: “Highland (coached by Ryan Held) isn’t the same team they were last year. They are very talented on both sides of the ball. They can score from anywhere on the field.

“Their freshmen quarterback (Brandon Bergeron) is a very accurate passer,” Poteete said. “He threw for 325 yards and four touchdowns against Fort Scott and kept their guys out of bad situations most of the time by making positive plays whether it was keeping the play alive with his feet or throwing a tough ball on the run.”

NEO also will have a freshman at quarterback. Offensive coordinator Poteete and quarterbacks coach Ben McLaughlin settled on McAlester’s 5-foot-11, 185-pound Tony Kiefer.

“Tony is an athlete, much like Bo Bowling was for NEO a few years ago” Poteete said. “He will share playing time with Memphis University transfer Mitch Manley (6-4, 240, Duncan) during the game.

“They both are deserving by what they’ve accomplished in the preseason,” Poteete said. “We’ll just have to see how it unfolds.

“We’ve scripted our first 15 plays which is what I’ve always done both as a player and as a coach,” Poteete said. “Depending on how things go, we’ll adjust as the game goes on.”

Poteete said the Norsemen should have several veterans in the backfield and at receiver as well as in the line to support the quarterbacks.

“We have four quality running backs and we’ve been giving them a lot of reps all week and we believe they can give us some success,” Poteete said. “We expect it to be hot and humid. So, with three running backs, we should be able to keep fresh legs on the field at all times.”

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