As Monte Coleman and the Arkansas – Pine Bluff Golden Lions prepare for the 2015 season, the team’s first game the 11th annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney is priority No. 1.
UAPB finished 4-7 (3-6 in conference play) in 2014, is the latest SWAC coach tasked with bringing home the title for his conference; the SWAC has only won two MEAC/SWAC Challenge games in the last 10 years.
The man on the opposing sideline who will look to block Coleman’s quest is Oliver “Buddy” Pough, himself no stranger to this game and winning. Pough is making his third appearance in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge, having previously guided the Bulldogs to victories over Alabama State (2005) and Grambling State (2009).
South Carolina State coach Oliver “Buddy” Pough has won two MEAC championships outright and shared in four others.
In truth, both programs are solid representatives of their respective conferences. Last season, South Carolina State (8-4 overall, 6-2 conference) grabbed a share of the MEAC championship with its 30-20 win over Norfolk State in the season finale. In 2012, UAPB captured the SWAC championship by defeating Jackson State 24-21 as the Golden Lions won their first league title.
This year sets the stage for new challenges, and milestones.
Monte Coleman: At a glance
· Entering his eighth season as head coach at Arkansas-Pine Bluff
· Played collegiately at Central Arkansas (1975-78)
· Drafted by the Washington Redskins in the 11th round of the 1979 NFL draft
· Played 16 seasons for the Redskins (1979-1994), winning three Super Bowls (’82, ’87 and ’91)
· Last won SWAC championship in 2012
Top returning players for Arkansas-Pine Bluff:
· Demarcus Berry, DL (53 total tackles, 8.5 sacks)
· Kevin Rucker, CB (50 total tackles, five INTs)
· Willie Duncan, LB (100 total tackles, 2.5 sacks)
· Willie Young, WR (45 receptions for 727 yards, nine TDs)
Oliver “Buddy” Pough: At a glance
· Entering his 14th season as coach at South Carolina State
· Played collegiately at South Carolina State for Hall of Fame coach Willie Jeffries
· Has won two MEAC championships outright (2008, 2009) and shared in four others (2004, 2010, 2013, 2014)
· Has made four trips to the FCS playoffs (2008, 2009, 2010, 2014)
· Has sent a number of players to the NFL, including Rafael Bush (New Orleans), Phillip Adams (New York Jets) and Jakar Hamilton (Dallas)
Top returning players for South Carolina State:
· Javon Hargrave, DL (16 sacks, 23.5 tackles for loss)
· Antonio Hamilton, CB (36 total tackles, three INTs)
· Jalen Simmons, RB (209 carries for 1,082 yards and nine TDs)