CHADRON, Neb. — August 28, 2019 — With the season-opener only 10 days away, the Chadron State College defense is shaping up, according to defensive coordinator Craig (Jersey) Jersild.
Starters are not completely set at every position, but the two-deep depth chart is pretty well filled out, Jersild said. Since he expects to use up to 25 defenders in each game, it may not matter much who starts, anyway.
“Primarily we just need to keep working and stay healthy,” Jersild said. “It’s getting to the point where we need to play a game. Everybody’s getting tired of banging on each other.”
The Eagles will open their season at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7 at Black Hills State in Spearfish and play their home opener at 7 o’clock the following Saturday against Colorado State-Pueblo.
The 2019 defense will be a mixture of players who saw action last fall, numerous redshirt freshmen and sophomores who have matured and several transfers who have joined the team, particularly in the secondary, to give it some added clout.
Jersild thinks the line could be the strongest phase. Returning starters Calder Forcella, a senior from Greybull, Wyo., who was an all-state quarterback in high school, and junior Brendan Hopkins of Green River, Wyo., are expected to be the anchors.
Sophomore Alex Mai of Fort Morgan, Colo., is expected to start between them at nose guard.
Much is also expected from middle linebackers Tyler Lewis, a senior from Arvada West High, and junior Travis Wilson of Fresno, Calif. Jersild calls them “true Eagles, tough guys who play hard all the time.”
Lewis has scored three touchdowns during his career and prevented another one last year when he forced a fumble just shy of the goal line in the final minute to preserve the Eagles’ four-point victory.
The coach calls Wilson “a hybrid,” a player who can do multiple things. Last year Wilson took part in 48 tackles, including 6.5 behind the line of scrimmage, and recovered the fumble that Lewis’s hit had caused.
Jersild said senior Micah Scherbarth of Gordon has worked hard and has nailed down a starting nod at one of the outside linebacker positions.
The secondary is also shaping up, according to Jersild. Senior cornerbacks DeAndre Barthwell of Westland, Mich., and Demetrius McFadden, Pahokee, Fla., have been at Chadron State all of their careers and want to make their final season a great one.
Head Coach Jay Long calls Barthwell, who intercepted three passes and broke up 11 more last season, an all-conference candidate and is always rooting for McFadden, nicknamed Rabbit, because of his determination. McFadden spent several weeks this summer continuing to train to become an Army officer through the ROTC program at Chadron State.
Senior transfer, Ju’Wan Murphy, arrived from Humboldt State in California after it dropped football, and looms big in the CSC secondary.
“He has great speed and is special,” Jersild said of Murphy. “He can play either cornerback or safety. He’ll make us better.”
Others sure to see duty in the defensive backfield include senior Tyree Fryar, a New Jersey native who took part in 89 tackles last fall, and sophomore Brendan Brehmer of Alliance, a stickout on special teams a year ago.