UWF football 2019 season preview
by Christian Skewes
Thursday, September 5 UWF will face the Carson-Newman Eagles at Burke-Tarr Stadium in Jefferson City, Tennessee. This game marks the second time these two teams have faced each other in non-conference play.
The Argos, won the first match up last year in a 19-9 nail-biter. UWF has won every season opener since the program’s inauguration in 2016 and looks to keep this trend going for the 2019 season.
“Carson-Newman is a good season opener,” redshirt junior Ty Cook said. “It’s a good test of how far we’ve come so far.”
The 2019 football season also marks the fourth year of coach Pete Shinnick’s campaign as head of Argo football. Since being hired on in 2014, UWF has a 22-15 overall record and 12-12 record in Gulf South Conference play.
Notoriously known for the 2017 dream season which led UWF to the Division II Championship game against Texas A&M University-Commerce, Shinnick looks to capitalize on the foundation he’s built thus far.
“He’s a fantastic coach and a better person,” Cook said. “He’s all about Arête, that’s the Greek word for excellence he talks about it at least fifty times a day.”
Cook continued, “He’s tells us to compete on every play and play through the whistle. He’s says if we play great football and do our jobs the wins will come.”
The Argo football team is returning seven defensive starters. Linebacker Andre Duncombe Jr. and nickel back Trent Archie look to be key players for this starting 11 Argo defense. Duncombe Jr. amassed 58 tackles (22 solo), four quarterback sacks (10th in the GSC) and three forced fumbles in the 2018 season.
Archie was named the GSC Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2016 with 90 tackles, three interceptions and four pass break ups. Archie sat out for the 2017 season but looks to get back to business this year.
“We look solid (on defense),” Cook said. “Defense is all about effort and toughness and I know we have that; I’m excited to see how we look this week.”
The UWF offense was the unit that had the most unanswered questions coming into the 2019 season. The Argos have seven returning offensive starters, with four of them being on the offensive line, UWF looks like it could put up its most impressive offensive season yet.
However, veteran offensive coordinator Jammie Deese announced his resignation this past summer due to personal reasons. Having been the offensive play caller for three seasons, the Argos had a big hole to fill in finding a suitable replacement.
“Coach Shinnick is gonna be calling the plays this season,” redshirt senior Joe Wintrick said. “It’s the same offensive scheme as last year and we have a lot of guys returning so everybody believes this offense can do big things.”
Wintrick was a first year transfer student when UWF went to the championship game in 2017. Now in his final season of eligibility, he looks to end things with a bang. “It’s senior year and I’m gonna ball out,” Wintrick said. “I know what my team is capable of so I’m gonna leave it all out on the field.”
UWF has also hired on former Davenport University coach Alvance Robinson as a wide receivers position coach during the summer.
Robinson played nine years professionally in the Canadian and Arena football leagues and already has four years of coaching experience under his belt. The Argos will look to his leadership and guidance as they try to shape up this Argo offense.
The question of who would be the starting Argo quarter back was a big one this offseason. After stiff competition and rumors swirling around, Shinnick and his coaching staff have finally made a decision in week one.
Colorado State transfer J.C. Robles will be the starting quarterback for the Argos. After an impressive spring game, Robles has solidified his role in being the field general for Shinnick. With returning wide receivers Quentin Randolph, Kevin Grant and Ka’Ron Ashley, Robles has multiple star players he can target this fall.
“That’s my boy (Robles),” Wintrick said. “He’s a great guy great, leader and he can throw the football, we’re all excited to see what he can do this fall.”
Anthony Johnson Jr. looks to be the starting running back for UWF. Last season he amassed 323 yards for 71 carries and two touchdowns and six receptions for 48 yards.
With a new quarterback and offensive coordinator, UWF will have to rely on Johnson’s big play ability if they look to make a run to the playoffs.
“Anthony Johnson is our RB1 this year,” Wintrick said. “He’s dealing with a little hamstring injury right now but he should be able to play against Carson-Newman. He’s a monster on the field.”
Redshirt Sophomore Jaden Gardener also looks to be in the rotation at running back this year. A transfer from Coffeyville Community College, his teammates call him Turbo due to his speed and style of play.
“I think this is gonna be a great year for us,” Wintrick said. “You know one expectation that coach has for us isn’t just to play good it’s to be good men too. He’s shaping us to be great men, employees, husbands and so on; with a foundation like that the possibilities are endless.”