by Donal Ware
For the last two seasons, the CIAA championship game has seen Bowie State and Winston- Salem State battle it out. In 2015 WSSU defeated the Bulldogs 17-14 on a game-winning field goal with no time on the clock. In 2016, the Rams defeated BSU 43-33.
Is this the year Bowie State can finally win its first-ever championship?
The Bulldogs would have to get out of the Northern Division first and that is no easy task. If not for the Bulldogs defeating Virginia State 38-37, or if Virginia Union hadn’t hit a bad stretch to end the season after defeating Bowie State, then the Bulldogs may not have even been in the championship game.
Virginia Union and Chowan, who was also in the hunt towards the end of last season, both have some questions to answer, but Virginia State is very strong and Elizabeth City State, who was in the hunt with about three weeks remaining last year, is on the rise.
The Bulldogs return the conferences Offensive Player of the Year last year in quarterback Amir Hall who completed 62 percent of his passes for 3,596 yards and threw for 30 touchdowns, while rushing for 266 yards and another nine touchdowns. Running back Robert Chess on is also back having rushed for 1,128 yards, 6.6 yards per carry and 11 touchdowns while catching 28 passes for 289 yards and four touchdowns.
The Rams are undoubtedly the favorites in the South and was the only team to have a winning record in the division. Junior defensive lineman Jarrell Bright is a stud and had 12 sacks as a freshman last year. He will help to lead a defense looking to be better than it was last year. Offensively, the Rams return now three-year starter Rod Tinsley how threw for 1,773 yards, and 18 touchdowns and running back Kerri on Moore who rushed for 1,059 yards and nine touchdowns.
The Southern Division will be much improved this year, but it remains to be seen if any team will catch the Rams. The Rams are the favorites and based upon the last four seasons, FSU has to be second. It was very tough to pick an order beyond that and quite frankly, any of the other five teams could finish second. Watch for FSU running back Stevie Green, Saint Augustine’s wide receiver Sam Boyd, who is a pro prospect and two-time BOXTOROW All-America safety Carlo Thomas of Johnson C. Smith to all have big years.
Below are our HBCU Football Daily Podcasts that preview all 12 CIAA teams. You can listen to the podcasts online or download them. Let us know what you think. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and use #HBCU125 The podcasts are in order of how we think the teams will finish in respective divisions.