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CIAA Preview: Week One

CIAA | 8/23/2010, 6:19 p.m.

Triskaidekaphobia: Fear the 13! -2010 CIAA Football - The Championship Game - November 13 - Durham , NC

WEEK 1- LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

Hampton, VA - One of the most anticipated seasons in many years kicks off this weekend. For the first time in over 30 years, the CIAA will have 13 teams vying for spots in the November 13 Football Championship. The return of Winston-Salem State highlights Week 1 as they host Northern Division Heavyweight Virginia Union.

GAME OF THE WEEK: VIRGINIA UNION AT WINSTON-SALEM STATE : After five years away from CIAA Football, the Rams return with an exclamation point! There will be no lightweight openers for Winston-Salem State this season as Northern Division Heavyweight Virginia Union comes to town. WSSU has recently returned to Division II and the CIAA after ending its plans to transition to Division I last Fall. Virginia Union finished 6-4 in Mike Bailey's opening campaign as head coach.

The Panthers also finished tied for the Eastern Division Title (now North Division) losing the tiebreaker to Bowie State . VUU returns a bevy of offensive talent including a loaded backfield. Two quarterbacks, Cheston Hickman and Aris McGlone-English, who received significant game experience last season. Due to injury, several running backs had an opportunity to be the lead back for the Panthers in '09. Veteran Tarian Donaldson is the most experienced tailback, but Alexander Stevens, Trevon Winston and Wesley Queen all are capable to carry the mail.

Leading the way for the backfield will be massive David Mims (6-8, 335 lb) at Tackle. He is a preseason All-America. The Rams are rebuilding a team that had numerous departures. Nine starters return for WSSU as they look to have a successful return to CIAA Football. This is the debut for new WSSU Coach Connell Maynor, former Fayetteville State Offensive Coordinator. The game will be played in High Point as the "Furniture City Classic." (7:30 p.m. at High Point , NC ).

Players to watch: (Virginia Union: OL David Mims; QB Cheston Hickman; RB Tarian Donaldson).

( Winston-Salem State : OL Travis Taylor; LB Marvin Bohannon; DB Jaquin Sessions).

JOHNSON C. SMITH AT ELIZABETH CITY STATE : ECSU, once a perennial CIAA doormat, is now a powerhouse in the league. Having either shared or winning the Eastern Division three times since 2006, the Vikings are now one of the league's heavyweights. Arguably one of the finest collections of offensive talent in Division II returns for ECSU this season. WR Dexter Manley, RB Daronte McNeill, QB Creven Powell, and TE Karvin Gwaltney all return to give the offense serious punch.

Manley, one of the nation's best wideouts, will look to shake off an injury-plagued 2009. The Golden Bulls will look to open up their offense with QB Ryan Carter now having a year of starting experience under his belt. WR Jeremy Franklin, All-CIAA in '09, gives him one of the nation's most formidable targets. ECSU DL Malcolm Jenkins will get after Carter to kick off his All-America campaign. (6:00 p.m. at Elizabeth City , NC).

Players to watch: (Johnson C. Smith: WR Jeremy Franklin; QB Ryan Carter; RB Archie Lee Barrow).

( Elizabeth City State : WR Dexter Manley; RB Daronte McNeil; DL Malcolm Jenkins).

LIVINGSTONE AT VIRGINIA STATE : The Trojans open up the 2010 Season with optimism. VSU closed the 2009 season with two wins including a nail biter over Bowie State . They return both QBs that took snaps last season in Leonard Johnson and Jarred Battle. The leading rusher, Antwain Lyde, and receiver Brian Berry, also return for VSU.

The Trojans are looking to win their first divisional crown since the return of the CIAA Championship Game in 2000. A new era begins for Livingstone football with new coach Elvin James taking the reins of the program. He does return some experience on the defensive side of the football. Pre-Season All-America Alkeem Deloatch leads the way for a strong defensive backfield. DB Devonta Harmon returns with Deloatch. (6 p.m. at Ettrick , VA ).

Players to watch: (Livingstone: DB Alkeem Deloatch; DL Dorian Edwards; DL Michael Haygood).

( Virginia State : RB Antwain Lyde; WR Brian Berry; LB LaQuentin Milo ).

BOWIE STATE AT SETON HILL: The Bulldogs look to "Finish What We Started" in 2009, with a banner season and a CIAA Championship. The Bulldogs fell just short of winning it all last year by surrendering a fourth quarter lead to Fayetteville State in the Championship Game. Defensively, BSU returns one of the nation's strongest units.

A strong defensive backfield led by Terence Peete, Ken Turner, and Sterling Grant-Jones will make it difficult for opponents to throw the ball. RB Rodney Webb and WR Clifton Budd lead the way offensively for the Bulldogs. BSU will look to get a much needed season-opening win against the Griffins. Three of the next four opponents for BSU are Morgan State , Fayetteville State and Virginia Union. (3:00 p.m. at Greensburg , PA ).

Players to watch: ( Bowie State : DB Terence Peete; WR Clifton Budd; and RB Rodney Webb).

CHOWAN AT LENOIR-RHYNE: The post CJ Westler era begins at Chowan. The 2009 Offensive Player of the Year had been the unquestioned leader for Chowan the past few seasons. The Hawks do return receivers Robert Holland and Kevin Hodrick. Chowan moves to the Northern Division this season in all sports. (7p.m. at Hickory , NC ).

Players to watch: (Chowan: WR Robert Holland; WR Kevin Hodrick; DL Brendon Scott).

SAINT PAUL'S AT WEST VIRGINIA WESLEYAN: St. Paul 's will be looking to get off to a strong start in 2010. RB Andre Tinsley and DB Dominic Tolson will lead the way for the Tigers. (1:00 p.m. at Buckhannon , WV ).

Players to watch: ( St. Paul 's: RB Andre Tinsley; DB Dominic Tolson; K Preston McCarthy).