By JOHN L. PITTS/NEMS Daily Journal
FLORENCE, Ala. – Minnesota-Duluth isn’t expected to throw the ball a lot in today’s Division II championship game, but Delta State coach Ron Roberts knows junior cornerback Dominique Davenport, from Baldwyn, will be ready for action.
“He’s our best coverage guy and we’re really counting on him,” Roberts said Thursday. “He’s made some huge plays for us this season and he’s been rock-solid in the second half of the year.”
Davenport (5-foot-10, 183) is second on the team in interceptions (5) and pass breakups (10) and is ninth on the team in tackles (48, 31 solo).
He’s part of a Statesmen defense with eight upperclassmen starters.
Jacob Semsa, a junior from Walnut, starts at tight end for the Statesmen. Reserve players from the Journal’s circulation area on the roster include fullback Reed Falkner (Oxford), punter Andrew Jones (Corinth), running back Clint Farrar (Kossuth) and linebacker Bill Hawkins (Booneville).
Winning over skeptics
– After a disappointing 5-5 campaign last season, Roberts said his team faced “some skepticism” this fall, especially after opening the season with a loss at Jackson State, then suffering two Gulf South losses in October.
“It took some time to win over the fans again in our community, but there’s no question they’re behind us now,” Roberts said.
Bulldogs get tested
– Sometimes an undefeated team reaches a final game without ever being seriously tested.
Minnesota-Duluth breezed through the regular season but navigated a couple of nail-biters in the playoffs.
“In our playoff opener, we needed to make a stop just to get the ball back and get to overtime,” said Bulldogs coach Bob Nielson. “Last week, we had to make a big drive late in the game to beat Northwest Missouri.
“I think we’ve shown some mental toughness to get to this game. We’ll be ready for whatever situation we face against Delta State.”