Point to host first game of the season on Saturday
Published 9:00 am Thursday, August 24, 2023
By Pacey Strickland
After a long offseason and a strenuous fall camp, Point University’s football team will open up its season at home Saturday against Bethel.
Last season, Point took a 3-0 lead into halftime against Bethel but ended up losing the game 28-3. Point’s offense stalled in the second half, and Head Coach Trevor Zeiders felt like the Skyhawks became one dimensional.
“Hopefully, they’re able to run the ball a little better than we did in the second half last year against these guys,” Zeiders said. “That’s really kind of what ended up happening. We really struggled in regards to being able to run the ball. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you’re a one dimensional team and they can key in on it, it’s going to make your day long.”
In just his second season as the head coach, Zeiders could not have asked for a more challenging opener. Bethel is the eighth-ranked team in the NAIA.
“We’re preparing away,” Zeiders said. “Are you ever fully prepared for the number eight team in the country? I don’t know. I mean, we’re doing the best we can.”
On offense, Bethel will have a plethora of talent. A major key for Point’s defense will be keeping up with Joaquin Collazo. Zeiders believes that Collazo’s elusiveness at quarterback could present challenges. Besides their quarterback, Bethel will lean heavily on screens.
“They’ve done well with those screens,” Zeiders said. “They’ve got a lot of traction with those, they’ve gained a lot of yards with those. That’s going to be something we’re gonna have to work to stop. If we don’t stop their screen game, it’s going to be a long day.”
After the scrimmage this past Saturday, Zeiders was disappointed with all the missed tackles on defense. Missed tackles will be crucial in defending Bethel’s screens.
Point does not spend a lot of time tackling to the ground in practice. However, the coaching staff has worked hard to make sure the defense is in the right position to make the tackle.
On the offensive side, Point has spent time in the film room adjusting to the different looks that Bethel will show them.
In fall camp, there was a major battle for the starting quarterback role. Mitchell Gossett is expected to start the game on Saturday, but other quarterbacks could see playing time depending on the flow of the game.
“We’ll see how we do,” Zeiders said. “One guy is playing hot, probably going to ride that hot hand. We got to figure out where we’re at, and who can really tell us that they can get it. We’ve got some really good guys that I think can, it’s just a matter of who wants to step up and finally do it.”
Zeiders expects Emery Bryant and Sensir Carnes to lead Point’s offense on Saturday. Carnes and Bryant are two of Point’s most experienced players.
“Sensir is more of the vocal guy out of the two,” Zeiders said. “Emery’s more of a leader by example. Both bring a lot to the table for us. We’re going to have to lean heavily on those guys.”
In Zeiders first season, Point finished with a 4-7 record. Over the past five seasons, the Skyhawks have only won five games in a season once.
The home opener against Bethel this Saturday will not only serve as an important matchup for Point this season, it could also serve as a major building block for their football program.
“Anytime you play somebody that’s highly ranked, it’s very important,” Zeiders said. “Simply, if nothing else, from the aspect that it would build a ton of confidence going into a week two game that’s going to be another really tough game.”
On defense, Zeiders expect Davyon Dukes and Caleb Wade to lead the defense. Wade and Dukes are both seniors with a good bit of experience. Overall, Point’s defense will have several returning starters to lead them in the opener.