The Lenoir-Rhyne football team returns most of its offensive line from last season in 2020, which should increase the Bears’ chances of having another successful year. In two seasons under former head coach Drew Cronic, Lenoir-Rhyne went 25-3 with a pair of South Atlantic Conference championships and back-to-back trips to the regional title game.
With new head coach Mike Jacobs at the helm this fall after posting a 42-8 record at Notre Dame College in Ohio over the past two seasons, the Bears are looking to continue trending upward. And having the likes of two-time NCAA Division II All-American and Jacobs Blocking Trophy award winner Jason Poe along with Blake Jefferson, Kurtis Feanny and Bryce Heidinger back to protect senior quarterback Grayson Willingham and block for the rest of Lenoir-Rhyne’s skill players will be a huge plus.
Another returning offensive lineman is senior Ian Brinson, who was Lenoir-Rhyne’s starting right tackle in 2019. After playing in nine games as a freshman, Brinson has started all 28 of the Bears’ contests during the 2018 and 2019 seasons, helping them boast a strong offense both years.
Along with the aforementioned Poe, who is the Bears’ only other senior offensive lineman and one of the premier right guards in the nation, Brinson will provide the 2020 squad with leadership and stability on the right side of the line. The duo is used to playing next to each other, and that should make every offensive player feel more comfortable entering a second straight season of high expectations for Lenoir-Rhyne.
The Bears particularly excelled on the ground last season, finishing with the fifth-most rushing yards among Division II teams with 3,766. Their 269 rushing yards per game ranked seventh in the country, and their 44 rushing touchdowns was tied for fourth.
Lenoir-Rhyne also ranked eighth among Division II programs in points per game (42) during the 2019 season. Additionally, the Bears’ 78 offensive TDs represented the third-highest mark in the country along with Central Missouri, which also crossed the goal line 78 times a year ago.
Among the nine SAC teams, Lenoir-Rhyne finished in the top three in most offensive statistical categories in 2019. Although the Bears’ defense and special teams also played at a high level, their offense proved extremely proficient as they finished undefeated in conference play for the second year in a row.
The big boys up front often don’t get the credit that they deserve, but Brinson and his fellow offensive linemen deserve appreciation for the part they have played in Lenoir-Rhyne’s success. If they can keep it up, the Bears should enjoy another strong season in 2020.
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