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The LAMAR TECH-ABILENE CHRISTIAN game in Abilene on October 16 should settle first place once and for all in the Southland Conference. Tech won the title last year, but Abilene is better in 1965 with improved running and the return of four All-Conference players, Halfback Mike Love, Tailback Dennis Hagaman, Guard Ron Anders and Tackle Larry Cox.
Lamar Tech has 22 lettermen back, of whom 17 were regulars. Quarterback Phil Primm completed 62 of 120 passes for 893 yards and he still has his favorite targets—Steve Bailey and Frazer Dealy.
Arkansas state plays both contenders, however, and is capable of complicating matters enough to wind up with the title itself. The Indians (7-0-2) still have All-Conference Linebackers Dan Summers and Dave Werner, while Tackle H. K. Reeves has size (232 pounds) and speed. Sadly, however, both quarterbacks are gone and the replacement, Bryan Caplinger, was a defensive specialist last year.
In and around Springfield, Tiffin, Berea, Westerville, Akron and other hopeful towns, the teams of the Ohio Conference have been trying, without success, to beat WITTENBERG for nearly four years. During this time Wittenberg has won 29 games in a row, enjoyed three unbeaten seasons and taken four OC titles. The 1964 team was the best of all: it was voted the national small-college champion, outscored its opponents 281-60, outrushed them 1,371 yards to 798 and outpassed them 1,947 to 1,045.
But lo, Baldwin-Wallace, Muskingum, Denison, Akron and the others are taking heart this year; their retaliatory powers appear stronger—and Wittenberg's weaker—than at any time since 1959. Thirteen of Wittenberg's starters—including Little All-America Quarterback Chuck Green and nearly the whole offensive line—have graduated and left Coach Bill Edwards with nothing but glittering memories. "Replacing men who were able to do so much so well is going to be no easy task," he says. Edwards will start with four very good Tigers, however, and build from them. End Rod Miller, Fullback Octavian Pechar, Halfback Bob Harvey and Guard Fred Musone are as good as they come. Defensively, six regulars are left, but the quarterback situation is the bleakest it has been since Edwards arrived in 1955. Gene Laughman and Steve Wise have played just long enough to throw 11 passes.
If Edwards cannot finagle Wittenberg's fifth OC championship in five years, BALDWIN-WALLACE looks ripe enough to win its first in more than 20 years. The Yellow Jackets have three good linebackers in Dave Dourm, George Kapcar and Mike Martin, and there are six lettermen ready for five positions in the defensive line. The offense is not flashy, but it will move the ball. Quarterback John Terakedis is ably supported by Jim Jones. Fullback Joe Yore runs hard and blocks well. Bob Balogh heads a fine selection of ends. These and the rest of 26 lettermen could fly the Yellow Jackets past Wittenberg and everybody else in the way. Coach Ed Sherman has a 124-41-7 record at MUSKINGUM and because Sherman always seems to get the most out' of what he has, the Fighting Muskies will be near the top of the OC again. Twenty lettermen return, including All-OC Fullback Donn Foutz, Tackle Mark DeVilling and Middle Guard Tom Dillard. The defense will be sound, and if Muskingum gets past Baldwin-Wallace on September 25, it could be a championship year at New Concord.
At Granville, Ohio, Coach Keith Piper has 30 lettermen to fortify DENISON's single wing. Tailback Denny Price is among them, and Price led the OC in rushing and scoring last season. Fullback Sam White will be missed, but sophomore Eric Ivary could supply needed inside power. As usual, the Big Red has a stingy defense, but the fact that it does not have to play Wittenberg could prove a curse in disguise.
Coach Gordon Larson has 26 lettermen left at AKRON but insists he faces his biggest rebuilding job since he arrived in 1961. "If our youngsters don't develop quickly we're in real trouble," he says. The Zips lost five starters in the offensive line in addition to All-Conference choices Darrington Seals at halfback and Jim Wehner at defensive tackle. Halfback Jim Braccio and Tackle Doug Thompson must take the initiative.
It looks like another year of fun, fun, fun at FINDLAY, Ohio. Coach Byron (By) Morgan's Oilers won nine of 10 games before losing to Sam Houston State in the NAIA semi-finals—and there are at least 24 reasons (two dozen lettermen) why Findlay should be just as good in 1965. The biggest reason of all is Halfback Allen Smith, who as a sophomore led the NAIA in rushing (1,070 yards) and scoring (102 points) and made the Little All-America team. Now that he has experience it is anyone's guess what he will do. No less important reasons for optimism are Quarterbacks Jim Culler and Martin Terry, who combined for 12 touchdown passes, and Defensemen Bill Bingle and Jerry Savoy, who tossed opposing ballcarriers around like wadded newspapers.