Caton an unexpected gift for fledgling Hendrix program

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Freshman quarterback Seth Peters has led Hendrix to a 1-1 start, the most impressive of the new football schools in Division III. Among his favorite targets is junior transfer Casey Caton.
Hendrix athletics photo

Birmingham-Southern survived a rally by visiting newcomer Hendrix in a 35-32 win to open conference play Saturday.

Hendrix (1-1, 0-1 SAA) was attempting to start its first football season since 1960 with back to back wins. The Warriors reeled off 21 unanswered points to take their only lead of the game early in the fourth quarter, 24-21.

There are no moral victories in football, but throwing a scare into the Panthers and challenging up to the final seconds in the second Hendrix football game of the last half-century is close.

The brand-new Hendrix team is led by coach Buck Buchanan and almost entirely made up of freshmen, with a handful of transfers.

“The good thing is, we don’t have any bad habits yet,” Buchanan said. “So we don’t have to break any bad habits. We just try to do things the right way to start with.”

The oldest player on the team is 22-year old receiver Casey Caton. In a room of just under 50 freshmen, Buchanan says that it’s nice just to have players who have been through a college season.

The coach made a decision to recruit a relatively small number of players who are “right” for his program and focus on retaining them. He says those young players excel at translating his instructions, but Buchanan acknowledges that the majority of his team has yet to confront some basic challenges of being a college athlete -- things like continuing to earn good grades and pressing through midterm exams.

Caton is one of the five or six Warriors to have done all those things already.

The 6-foot-2, 195-pound junior from Harding University was an unanticipated gift from the school in Arkansas. When Buchanan visited the Harding football facility looking for ideas to layout his own athletic facility, Bison coach Ronnie Huckeba offered him more than a tour.

“He said, ‘Coach I may have a receiver who would be perfect for you,’” Buchanan said. “He’s not playing right now -- and he wants to play -- and he would be perfect for you with what you all are going to do throwing the ball.’”

Caton’s father, Lafe Caton, is a defensive coordinator who echoed the suggestion that Casey would fit into the Warriors offense.

“Casey wasn’t really being a contributor for them, but it was a good fit for us,” Buchanan said. “So Coach Huckeba, we really appreciate him passing him along.”

Two games into the season, there’s plenty to appreciate. The junior leads the Warriors receivers in a pass-heavy offense designed to let the guys catching the ball shine.

Caton reeled in 13 catches for 151 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the Warriors on Saturday at Birmingham-Southern. He’s amassed 297 yards receiving on 21 catches in his two starts, averaging more than 14 yards a grab. He nabbed a 46-yard touchdown reception in the season opener that’s the longest catch to date for the Warriors. Caton and freshman Travus McMahon currently lead scoring with three touchdowns each.

Buchanan isn’t leaning on Caton in the passing attack. The junior is making the most of his opportunities.

“Our whole offense is trying to get the ball to the guy its supposed to go to,” Buchanan said. “It isn’t about getting the ball to Casey Caton. But obviously it’s good to have a guy you can trust. You know he’s going to be able to get open and do something with the ball afterward.”

Birmingham Southern (2-0, 1-0) scored two touchdowns in three minutes to regain command and hold off Hendrix on Saturday. But McMahon hauled in a late touchdown from freshman quarterback Seth Peters, and Peters was successful on the two-point conversion with just over a minute remaining.

The Warriors, having re-opened the football program with a win, are already willing to battle back from a deficit. Hendrix was down three times in the season opener against Westminster before winning on a 25-yard field goal from Steve Crenshaw with one second remaining in regulation.

Buchanan believes his team is thriving on the supportive environment from an administration that made the decision to embrace football.

“It’s been a pleasure to be around this situation,” he said. “We have unbelievable facilities and our people are very supportive. That shows a lot in the way our kids play on Saturdays because they feel like people have their back and they want to play for more than just themselves.”

  • Buchanan was part of the original staff that reintroduced football to Louisiana College in 2001. The Wildcats won their first game but faded to a 2-8 season. “Going through this process one time before at Louisiana College, I’m much more prepared this time around,” Buchanan said with a laugh.
  •  Joe Moultrie spearheaded the ground game for Birmingham-Southern with 118 yards and a touchdown. Tyson Beachem passed for 263 yards, completing 22 of 28 attempts in a balanced offensive attack. Michael Cowan pulled in six catches for114 yards, including a long of 34 yards for touchdown that put the Panthers on the board first.


Bucking the trend: Newcomer Texas Lutheran tops the SCAC after notching its first win over Trinity (Texas) since 1976, defeating the Tigers 42-38 Saturday on the road.

The Bulldogs are in their first season in the conference, but the matchup has plenty of history. Trinity (1-1, 0-1 SCAC) led the series 11-2 entering Saturday’s game and had never lost to Texas Lutheran (2-0, 2-0) at home.

Texas Lutheran outscored the Tigers 28-7 in the second half.  Senior quarterback Brent Peavy connected with Marquis Barrolle from two yards out to give Texas Lutheran the lead for good with 5:19 remaining. The touchdown capped a 13-play, 85-yard drive that went down the field in four minutes, 21 seconds. Peavy passed for 317 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 85 yards.

Sophomore running back AJ Saucedo complemented the ground game with 15 carries for 105 yards, including touchdown runs of 23 and 33 yards.

The win puts Texas Lutheran in control of the conference, as the Bulldogs opened the season with a win over Southwestern (0-2, 0-1).


Kicker’s corner: Louisiana College is undefeated despite struggling early Saturday against visiting NAIA-team Webber International. Senior running back Reggie Sims rushed two yards for the winning touchdown with 29 seconds remaining in regulation, but it was the Wildcats’ placekicker who kept them in contention.

Adan Olivares was successful on three of his four field goals attempts, putting LC (2-0) on the scoreboard and in striking distance despite being on the wrong side of 12 penalties worth 171 yards, two fumbles and three interceptions.

Olivares gave Louisiana College its first lead of the day with under five minute to play when the junior from Gilmer, Texas, connected on his third field goal. His first attempt, a 49-yard kick at the end of the first half, set a new school record.

While the offense struggled, the Louisiana defense held Webber International (1-2) to 177 yards of total offense and a pair of field goals. The lone Webber International touchdown came on an interception return.

The Wildcats open ASC play at Howard Payne on Oct. 5 and face perennial conference power Mary Hardin-Baylor (2-0) on the road Oct. 19.

The best defense: East Texas Baptist introduced a new coach and new, refreshed offense Saturday, defeating Austin (0-2), 52-34, in a non-conference, season-opening win.

Running back Toi Glover had a career day in the win for coach Joshua Eargle. Glover carried 29 times for 153 yards and two rushing touchdowns, as well as a two-point conversion. Glover also reeled in a TD catch. 

The junior’s previous career high was set last year against Austin, when he rushed for 97 yards on 20 carries, including a 27-yard touchdown.

Jamaine Sherman had 12 receptions for 175 yards and a touchdown. And Brooks Holder completed 31 of 40 passes for 316 yards in his debut under center.

ETBU had not won a season opener since 2010. Eargle arrived in Marshall, Texas, via Division II Southeastern Oklahoma State, where he was defensive coordinator.

Brian Lester

Brian Lester is a reporter in Florida. He has 14 years of experience at newspapers in Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio, spending 10 at The Courier in Findlay, Ohio. Lester also writes an Around the Region column for D3hoops.com and wrote Around the Great Lakes for D3football.com from 2012-14. He is a graduate of Eastern Illinois.

2014 columnist: Justin Goldberg
2013 columnist: Andee Djuric
2012 columnist: Kyle Robarts
2008-11 columnist: Jason Bowen

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