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Friends University

Over the past three seasons, no team in the KCAC has been more consistent than the Friends Falcons.  Unfortunately for Falcon’s fans, they have been consistently mediocre- finishing with a conference record of 5-4 in each of the last three seasons.  Winning records, yes, but definitely not up to the standards that Friends University has become accustomed to over the years.  For the football program to follow suit with the recent success of the rest of their athletic department, the football Falcons need to step it up.  That’s just what ten year veteran head coach Monty Lewis intends to do.  The theme at this year’s spring practice was for the Falcons to regain their “hard edge”.  Lewis admits that this “hard edge” attitude has slipped over the last three seasons, and vows to bring it back in 2013.  He puts the entire blame on his own shoulders, stating at the 2013 press conference that he has “put himself in the hot seat”.  Along with a refreshed attitude, he also vows to add depth.  Says Lewis “I believe we have championship talent with our starters, but we don’t have championship depth.”  To that end, it appears that coach Lewis means what he says.  Listed on the FU website are no less than 68 new recruits- 42 of which are transfers, twelve of those coming from NAIA perennial power Northwest Oklahoma State.  That is a huge number of transfers for any college program and the effects of such an influx can go either way.  

The Falcons lose 15 players from last year to graduation- an about average number.  Most notably gone from the FU defense is All-American defensive end Dexter Davis.  Losing a four year player of Davis’ caliber is something that you just don’t compensate for with one player.  Friends’ teams have been known for their stingy defenses for years- claiming the #1 ranked defense in 8 of the last 10 seasons.  Last years’ unit was ranked fourth in yards allowed and second in points allowed and was what kept the Falcons in many games in 2012.  Despite the loss of Davis, FU returns some notable talent, starting with senior linebacker Marcus Carter, Las Vegas, NV.  Lewis describes Carter as “one of the best at his position in the entire country”.  All conference performers expected to return include senior DL Josh Hicks, Wichita, KS, and senior DB Cody Lenhart, Glendale, AZ.  Also returning is Conway Springs, KS product Mason Pauly on the defensive line.   Lewis describes the Friends defensive backfield as “loaded with talent”.  In addition to Lenhart, CB Sequente Marks, Wichita, KS returns.  Additionally, first team all-conference utility player from 2012, Derek Racette, Hutchinson, KS, has been transitioned from QB to safety.

Offensively the Falcons must improve in order to restore their past success.  The Falcon’s strength on offense appears to be along the line.  Despite the graduation loss of all KCAC performer  Stephen Beusch, the Falcons return two honorable mention starters in  senior Nathan Thompson, Sedgwick, KS, and senior Cortlin Couture, Highland Ranch, CO,.  Junior tight end Sam Bautista, Wichita KS, and former starters DJ Crager, Valley Center, KS and Jacob Allen, Crystal River, FL  give the Falcon offensive line an exceptional core of experience and talent to build on, which is most critical in  Monty Lewis’ run first, ball control offense. Junior RB Thomas Hankerson, Boynton Beach, FL, has the potential to make a huge statement this year.   Rushing for 95.5 yards per game last year, Hankerson has established himself as the go-to guy in the Friend’s backfield, with Nehemiah Scott, a linebacker convert from Wichita, KS, right behind him.  Junior wide receiver Chris Allen, McKinney, TX looks to improve on an all- KCAC honorable mention sophomore season in 2013 as well.  

The outlook for the Friends football team seems positive.  There is a renewed energy within the Falcon’s program and efforts seem to have been magnified and re-focused.  Lots of players are being moved to new positions to capitalize on their strengths.  Coach Lewis, who is known for his high motivation and high energy style, seems to have gotten a second wind in his career and is intent on returning the Falcons to the top of the pile in the KCAC.  This could be the year where they do just that.