After a hiatus of a couple of months, we’re restarting our Charlotte 49ers football primer series. We left off with Charleston Southern, but will stay in South Carolina as the Niners take on what should be a very tough Coastal Carolina squad. Here’s a look at the Chanticleers.
Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
November 2, 2013
Brooks Stadium, Conway, SC
Last year: 8-5 (5-1 Big South)
Head coach: Joe Moglia (second season)
The Big South co-champion Chants are coming off a playoff year in 2012, dropping Bethune-Cookman in the first round before being blown out by Old Dominion in the second round. Strange but true fact about the team: their head coach is the current chairman and former CEO of broker firm TD Ameritrade. Joe Moglia left coaching in 1983 to enter the financial world and re-entered the sport in 2009 as an unpaid volunteer coach at Nebraska. He then was hired as the head coach of the Omaha Nighthawks of the UFL before being brought on as Coastal’s head man.
Offensively, Coastal ranked second in the conference in points scored per game (34.3) and led the way in total offense (437.8). That was thanks in part to outgoing senior QB and South Carolina transfer Aramis Hillary, a 3200-yard passer who threw for 25 touchdowns last season and rushed for four more en route to easy first team All Big South honors. Returning is the leading receiver from last year, first-team all conference pic Matt Hazel (nearly 800 yards and eight touchdowns); leading rusher and second-team all conference Jeremy Height (942 yards, 10 TD’s) looks to continue the success of the Big South’s third ranked rushing offense. One important weapon on the line, center Pat Williams (a first-team pick) will be missing this year.
While their rush offense was third in the conference (183.0), Coastal’s pass defense struggled, allowing an average of 241.0 yards through the air (second worst in the league). That doesn’t mean they’re completely weak on the other side of the ball by any means. Super soph Quinn Backus (139 tackles, three forced fumbles), the reigning defensive player of the year, is back, as is Mike McClure (92 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss for 42 yards)–but talented back Dontavius Johnson, along with lineman Quinton Davis and Johnny Hartsfield (all three first-team conference picks) have graduated. Talented punt returner Niccolo Mastromatteo and punter Austin Cain anchor a strong special teams unit.
Some key ingredients from last year’s playoff team are missing, leaving some work for Moglia as he looks to replace them. But there’s still plenty of talent on both sides of the ball for this team. Expect them to perform well once more in the 2013 season.