Bucs, Mocs limp into ETSU's home finale

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF

   JOHNSON CITY -- It wouldn't be a smart idea for ETSU head football coach Paul Hamilton or Chattanooga head coach Donnie Kirkpatrick to ask each other to help pay for their teams medical bills. They both have a lot of injuries coming into Saturday's game.
   The Bucs and the Mocs will have to make do with what they've got Saturday when the two teams clash at 2 p.m. in Memorial Center. It will be senior day, as well as ETSU's homecoming.
   The Bucs come into this contest on a two-game winning streak, and sport a 4-4 overall record and a 2-3 SoCon mark. The Mocs will come to Johnson City trying to improve on their 2-6 overall record, and 1-5 league mark.
   "It will be a special day," Hamilton said. "This is a special place for our seniors. I expect our football team to play hard and with a lot of emotion."
   A couple of ETSU seniors are out for this contest. Strong safety Ocasio Cofield is out for the year due to injury, while place kicker Con Chellis is still nursing a hip injury he suffered in the pregame warm-up at Furman.
   Some of the ETSU underclassmen are injured, too, as defensive linemen Kai Shreckenburg, and Brandon Calton are questionable. Also on the injured list is linebacker Andrew Foerster, who is doubtful.
   "Our injury report is a little bigger than I had hoped for it to be," Hamilton said.
   Just like ETSU, the Mocs have battled injures all season long. The most devastating one happened when athletic quarterback/wide receiver Cos DeMatteo went down early in the season. The Mocs have yet to recover from that loss.
   The Mocs do have some talent. Chuck Spearman has performed admirably in place of DeMatteo. Spearman has thrown for over 1,000 yards this season.
   One player has really caught the eye of Hamilton, and that is running back Charles McNeil. He has 542 yards rushing so far.
   "He's an outstanding back," Hamilton said. "We were very aware of him out of high school. He is a fine football player. He's an outstanding break-away type guy."
   Defensive end Robert Springs heads up a Chattanooga defense that Hamilton is very high on.
   "Chattanooga runs very well on defense," Hamilton said. "They're an aggressive defense. Springs is a very fine football player up front. They have good size. Their front seven is impressive."
   ETSU is coming off a 26-0 victory over Charleston Southern last Saturday in a game that the Bucs didn't play their best. A letdown was probably to be expected after defeating Georgia Southern the week before.
   "I was not completely pleased with they way we played as a team," Hamilton said. "I thought offensively we hurt ourselves a great deal with our own mistakes. If we had not made so many penalties, the score would have been separated much greater in the earlier stages of the ball game."
   Hamilton was pleased with the defense for recording ETSU's first shutout in two seasons.
   "I credit our defense for continuing to do the things that have made us successful throughout this season," Hamilton said.
   One young man that has stepped up big on the defensive side of the ball recently is Gerald Sensabaugh. The former Dobyns-Bennett standout has replaced Cofield at strong safety, and has done an admirable job. After winning Freshman-of-the-Week honors for his effort against Georgia Southern, Sensabaugh recorded two sacks and intercepted a pass in the Charleston Southern game.
   "Gerald is a mature athlete," Hamilton said. "He handles things differently than most freshmen. He's been a pleasant surprise. I think we stole one. Gerald is a 1-A player. He's one of the best freshmen in 1-AA football."
   Hamilton knows that Chattanooga is dangerous, and that the Mocs are capable of knocking off the Bucs.
   "Our players know they have good players on their roster," Hamilton said. "I firmly believe our kids realize if we don't play at a very good level Saturday, we can get beat."
   According to Hamilton, this should be a great contest.
   "They're going to get after us," Hamilton said. "It's going to be a dog fight."