New FCS head coaches ready for debuts

9:01 AM, Sep 1, 2010   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Seventeen of the 19 new head coaches at FCS schools will make their debuts during the first week of games, including two facing off against each other on the first night of action Thursday.

Dale Carlson will make his debut for Valparaiso on Thursday at Western Illinois, where Mark Hendrickson has taken over. Hendrickson was the Leathernecks' offensive coordinator the last 11 seasons and went 5-10 as acting coach over parts of the past two seasons.

Both programs were 1-10 last season and have never met before.

On Saturday, another pair of first-year head coaches will square off. Julius Dixon, the interim coach at Savannah State, will take his squad to Georgia Southern, where former assistant coach Jeff Monken has returned to try to get the six-time national champion Eagles back to prominence.

"We've been scrimmaging against ourselves since last spring. I think our guys are ready to play somebody else," Monken said. "We're certainly interested to find out about our team and just how they'll react in competition with somebody else."

Six FCS head coaches are getting their feet wet against FBS programs. Murray State and coach Chris Hatcher visit Kent State on Thursday, while on Saturday Nicholls State's Charlie Stubbs debuts at San Diego State, Portland State and Nigel Burton visit Arizona State, Latrell Scott takes his Richmond squad to Virginia, Youngstown State and Jon Heacock travel to Penn State, and Sam Houston State's Willie Fritz heads to Baylor.

Burton, who turned 34 on July 30, is the youngest head coach in Division I football.

"Practice has been amazing," Burton said. "The amount of energy they have practiced with and the fact that they have executed very well. I couldn't imagine it being much better."

Other new FCS head coaches in debuts on Saturday: Bethune-Cookman's Brian Jenkins against Edward Waters; Bucknell's Joe Susan at Duquesne; Mississippi Valley State's Karl Morgan at Alabama State; Montana's Robin Pflugrad against Western State; St. Francis (Pa.) and Chris Villarial at Liberty; and Tennessee State's Rod Reed vs. Alabama A&M in the John Merritt Classic at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee. Southern's Stump Mitchell will debut on Sunday against Delaware State in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida.

The Ivy League kicks off its season Sept. 18. It has two new head coaches, Cornell's Kent Austin, whose first game is at Wagner, and Princeton's Bob Surace, whose opener is at Lehigh.

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