By: Benedict College
The Benedict College football team will begin the postseason at home for the second straight season. The Tigers are the No. 1 seed from the Super Region 2 and will have a bye in the first round of the Division II playoffs. Benedict will host the winner of the Lenoir-Rhyne and Shepherd game at 1 p.m. Nov. 25 at Charlie W. Johnson Stadium. Other matchups in Super Region 2 are West Florida at Delta State and in-state Limestone at Valdosta State. The winners of each Super Region advance to the semifinals. The DII championship will be Dec. 16 in McKinney, Texas. Ferris State has won the last two championships.
Pairings for the Division II playoffs were announced Sunday evening. Benedict players, fans and coaches gathered to watch the selection show on campus at the Swinton Center. A loud cheer went up when the Tigers were shown on the screen as the No. 1 seed.
“It’s a great day to be a Tiger,” Benedict coach Chennis Berry said as he addressed the crowd. Benedict made the playoffs for the first time last year but lost in the second round to Wingate, 23-6, after getting a first-round bye. “Last year was our first time in the history of Benedict College that we were in the playoffs. So now that we’ve got a taste of it and kind of know what it is like,” Berry said. “It’s tough to get that No. 1 seed. You’ve got to make sure you take care of business. We don’t worry about that at the beginning. We just try to fall in love with the process. But now, we are in that No. 1 seed, we do something with that and take care of home field.”
Benedict went unbeaten in the regular season for the second straight year and won its second consecutive SIAC championship on Saturday with a 47-10 win over Albany State. Quarterback Aenas Dennis threw for 279 yards and two touchdowns, and Benedict held Albany State to a season-low 193 yards.
The Tigers also took home two of the conference’s top honors last week with coach Chennis Berry was the conference’s Coach of the Year and Loobert Denelus was the SIAC Defensive Player of the Year. “It feels great that we did our job two years in a row,” Denelus said. “We know we have a lot more work to do and learn from our mistakes from last year. …. We still haven’t played our best football yet, and that is why we still are the hunters.” Denelus leads one of the top defenses in the country.
Benedict ranks No. 2 in Division II in yards allowed per game and sacks. “Benedict has a lot to prove but with that defense, that is dangerous for this part of the bracket,” NCAA.com’s Wayne Cavadi said during the selection show.
Berry said he will give the players a couple days off this week to recharge and also deal with final exams before starting to prepare for their playoff opponent.
“We have to make sure we fix all the small things,” Berry said. “When you get in the playoffs, there isn’t going to be a big difference in talent. It will be winning the penalty battle, turnover battle, explosive play battle. We feel like if we put those ingredients that go into the soup, that goes into the gumbo, we like our chances.”