Michael Hicks takes the same approach as a leader whether his football team is winning or losing. If he asks teammates to give a little more effort, then Hicks can guarantee he will do the same.
“You show them by example,” Hicks said. “If you need to correct somebody on how they're playing, you have to show them the right way. Don't leave them on their own. You have to do as I do.”
Hicks has been on both sides of the fence while playing middle linebacker for the Southern Nazarene Crimson Storm. Last season, as a freshman, he led the team in tackles while helping SNU finish the season 9-3 and qualify for the NAIA playoffs for the first time in program history. This season, the sophomore again tops the Storm in tackles, but for a team that is making a bumpy transition to NCAA Division II.
Southern Nazarene is 1-6 going into Saturday's game at Southern Arkansas in Magnolia. Southern Arkansas is 5-1 and from the Great American Conference — the league where SNU will soon become a full-fledged member. SNU has already lost to future conference foes No. 11-ranked Henderson State, Ark. (63-21), East Central (37-15) and No. 25 Harding, Ark. (32-14).
“Athletically, we're not that much different from those teams,” said Hicks, a Cushing High grad who served in the Army before signing with Southern Naz. “I think we have some guys on our team who could play at the next level, the Division I level. But when things go bad, we all have to re-evaluate what we're doing. It stinks that we're having a bad season, but I think we are getting better each week.”
Hicks said for SNU to become a contender in the Great American Conference, offseason conditioning must be a priority, especially for newcomers. Hicks and his roommate, fellow linebacker Dillon Brumbaugh, were dedicated lifters during the summer. Hicks, who turns 26 on Wednesday, hinted that some of the younger team members might consider the Hicks-Brumbaugh Summer Pride Plan in the future.
“For us to be successful, we have to have people in the gym,” Hicks said. “College football is a job, and some of the kids don't realize that. Sometimes, the freshmen don't like what you have to say, but you have to teach them that they have to work hard to succeed. If they don't listen, then it will be a struggle. If they listen and do as our (team) leaders do, then they will get there.”
*Northeastern A&M moved up six spots to No. 9 in the National Junior College Athletic Association football poll. The Golden Norse (6-1 overall, 4-1 Southwest Junior College Conference) thumped then-No. 5-ranked Kilgore 42-24 at Robertson Field. NEO quarterback Clayton Mitchem, a sophomore from Spiro, accounted for five touchdowns. Redshirt freshman defensive back Devron Moore intercepted three passes, falling one shy of tying the school record shared by John Pell (1966) and Rickey Greene (1980).
*Southwestern State running back Aaron Wilson set a Great American Conference single-game record with 290 yards rushing last weekend against Arkansas Tech. Wilson scored two touchdowns during the eight-point loss. The native Kansan ran for 145 yards over eight games last season in a reserve role.
*Deonte Mack of Southern Nazarene was named Great American Conference Special Teams Player of the Week. The junior out of Southeast High returned kicks, for the first time this season, against Kansas Wesleyan. Mack averaged 30 yards on three returns; he ran back one kick 57 yards for a touchdown. He is just the third player in SNU history to return a kickoff for a TD.
*Oklahoma Baptist had its second intrasquad scrimmage of the fall, and the offense rolled up 622 yards and four touchdowns on 132 snaps. But, the Bison defense forced seven turnovers, including four interceptions. Defensive backs Roman Gray and Jess Sapp each intercepted two passes. Linebacker Levi Jennings added nine tackles and a fumble recovery. Brett Tiger, though listed as a wide receiver, picked up a fumble and ran it back 47 yards for a touchdown.
“I think there were some good things, but we're four weeks in and we're at a point where you wonder if we're making any progress,” OBU coach Chris Jensen said in a statement. “There were a few plays where it looked like we were making improvements and some where it looked like we weren't. We really, really need to get better.”
The Bison will have its last intrasquad scrimmage Nov. 3, and then begins a regular college football program routine of winter conditioning, spring practice, summer conditioning and fall camp.
*Two consecutive weeks the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association has chosen a quarterback as its Offensive Player of the Week. It's also two consecutive weeks a QB earned the honor after playing Central Oklahoma. This week, Colter Smith of Central Missouri was selected after throwing for 329 yards and three touchdowns. Two weeks ago, Trevor Adams of Northwest Missouri State was chosen after throwing for 248 yards and five TDs. Each quarterback led their respective teams to blowout wins.
*Bacone 35, TEXAS COLLEGE 12, 2 p.m.
*Central Missouri 28, NORTHEASTERN STATE 14, 2 p.m.
*Northeastern A&M 41, CISCO (Texas) 7, 2 p.m.
*NORTHWESTERN STATE 17, Panhandle State 10, 2 p.m.
*SOUTHERN ARKANSAS 33, Southern Nazarene 17, 2 p.m.
*HENDERSON STATE 38, East Central 10, 3 p.m.
*SOUTHEASTERN STATE 24, Southwestern State 15, 3 p.m.
*Bye Week: Central Oklahoma, Langston
*Last week's predictions record: 5-2 (.714)
*Season's predictions record: 48-12 (.800)
Home team in CAPS
BY SCOTT MUNN