DAVIDSON – Davidson College’s football program is dipping into its past in hopes of future success.
The Wildcats’ new coach is Paul Nichols, a former Davidson quarterback who will debut as a head coach. He’s traded his helmet for a headset, but the goal is still the same – he wants the Wildcats to win like they did when he played.
Davidson was 22-6 when Nichols was the starting quarterback across four seasons (1999-2002). In the 10 years since, the Wildcats have only had two winning seasons. After last season’s 2-9 performance, Nichols was hired to replace Tripp Merritt.
Most of the coaching staff is new, too.
"We have created competition at a number of different positions that may not have been there before,” Nichols said. “For that reason alone, I think that we are going to be a better football team. I also think we have two tremendous coordinators (defensive coordinator Chad Creamer and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur) that have brought schemes in here that fit our current personnel and will give us an opportunity to compete.”
Davidson will open its season Sept. 7 at Georgetown. The home opener will be 7 p.m. Sept. 14 against Lenoir-Rhyne.
Nichols and his staff are seeking more balance on offense and have scrapped the “Air Raid” formation that relied heavily on passing the past few seasons. But the passing will be in good hands with the return of quarterback Jonathan Carkhuff, the school’s career passing leader, and all-conference tight end Reese Williams.
Last season, Carkhuff passed for 3,151 yards and 16 touchdowns. Williams, who caught 51 passes for 522 yards and four scores, is the top returning receiver.
The wideouts include junior Garrett Diehl, who caught 31 passes for 315 yards last season, which was cut short by injury; junior Tim Hines, who also battled injuries last season and William Morris, who showed potential in a limited role as a freshman in 2012.
The running game’s re-emergence will be led by returnees David Rogers and Colby Everett, both sophomores. Senior fullback Michael Lamoureux will provide blocking and physical inside running. The offensive line has plenty of experience in returning starters Nelson White and Brian Johnson (juniors) and sophomore Matt Brantley.
Davidson’s defense has more question marks than the offense. Among the 14 defensive linemen, nine are underclassmen. There is experience at linebacker, where senior Ben Prater (57 tackles last season) and junior A.J. Pignone are returning starters. Matt Casey played in all 11 games last season and was sixth on the team with 54 tackles. Safety Bryant Bednerek returns after making 77 tackles and breaking up five passes last season.
Date Opponent Time
Sept. 7 at Georgetown 6 p.m.
Sept. 14 Lenoir-Rhyne 7 p.m.
Sept. 21 at Johnson C. Smith 2 p.m.
Sept. 28 at Morehead State 1 p.m.
Oct. 5 at Dayton 1 p.m.
Oct. 12 Drake 1 p.m.
Oct. 19 Marist 1 p.m.
Oct. 26 at Jacksonville 1 p.m.
Nov. 2 Mercer 1 p.m.
Nov. 9 at Stetson 3 p.m.
Nov. 23 Campbell 1 p.m.