Harold Coggins: ‘New Kid’ Set To Battle in Ravine – GAC Football Spring Review


In 2014, Kevin Rodgers may have company atop the offensive statistical categories in the Great American Conference—and it could come from right across the ravine in Arkadelphia.

As Rodgers prepares for his senior season at Henderson State, the “new kid on the block” could very well be former SEC signal-caller Kiehl Frazier, who transferred from Auburn to Ouachita Baptist for his final year of eligibility.

A highly sought-after recruit coming out of Shiloh Christian High School, Frazier was the USA Today National Offensive Player of the Year and a Parade All-American. He led Shiloh Christian to three consecutive Class 4A state championships, earning MVP honors all three seasons.

The OBU Tigers are coming off a 7-3 season that produced 15 All-GAC football players, three All-Americans and five All-Super Region 3 players. It was also the sixth consecutive winning season for the Tigers, the longest current streak of any college football program in Arkansas.

Coach Todd Knight said Frazier’s transfer to Ouachita adds to an already strong program.

“Kiehl comes at a time when we have a great team, a great group of players and a good, solid football program,” Knight said. “We’ve accomplished a lot as a team this past season, including having one of the highest fall GPAs of any team I’ve coached. This is one more step for our team to get back to another championship.”

Frazier, who will play alongside his brother, Tiger offensive lineman Jed Beach, this fall, said he is excited about getting a fresh start and contributing to a winning program. Describing his goals for the spring and next season, Frazier immediately emphasized team. “Our focus needs to be on getting better,” he said. “We were 7-3 last year and came close, but we’re trying to get to the playoffs and that’s our focus.”

Frazier said the program as a whole has made his adjustment to Ouachita a smooth transition. “I immediately felt welcomed and like I was part of the team,” he said.

Coach Knight echoed Frazier’s sentiment. “Our guys are ready and open for anyone who wants to come in and contribute and adapt to our system and our style of football,” he said.

Being back home in Arkansas has also been a positive for Frazier, who got to visit home very little during his time at Auburn. Even more positive is the opportunity to be teammates with his younger brother.  “I talked to Jed after I made the decision to transfer,” Frazier said, “and he said OBU would be a good place for me.” The two played together for two seasons at Shiloh Christian.

Frazier added that after getting settled in to classes, he’s looking forward to competing in the spring.

As a freshman at Auburn, Frazier ranked third on the team with 327 rushing yards. He had a season-high 16 carries for 55 yards and two touchdowns against the Virginia Cavaliers in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. In 2012, he started five games at quarterback for the Tigers. This past season, Frazier saw playing time at both the safety and wide receiver positions.

Frazier’s addition to OBU will just magnify a rivalry that needs no magnification. Henderson had to go into triple overtime to keep its season undefeated last year at Ouachita’s A.U. Wiliams Field, winning 60-52 in the Battle of the Ravine.

A standing-room-only crowd of 9,648 watched the two teams go back-and-forth before Gary Vines intercepted a Benson Jordan pass in the end zone in the third overtime to secure Henderson’s second straight undefeated regular-season.

“I can’t be any prouder of a team than I am today of this bunch,” Henderson State Coach Scott Maxfield said after what will go down as one of the greatest football games between the neighboring schools on Nov. 16, 2013. “This was a great football game played by two outstanding football teams. My hat goes off to Coach Todd Knight in his team. Both teams left everything they had out on the field and this community should be proud of what they saw today.”

For all the hype and expectations about Frazier, though, Rodgers is still the king of the hill in the GAC. Henderson has lost only oneKevin Rodgers Passes for New Record league game in the three-year history of the conference and is currently sitting on a 21-game GAC football winning streak. And Rodgers has been the Reddies’ signal-caller for all 21 victories.

A finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy (the NCAA Division II version ofthe Heisman Trophy), Rodgers was named to several All-American teams including the Associated Press Little All-America Team, D2 Football All-America Team, Don Hansen All-America Team, Daktonics All-America Team and the Beyond College Sports Network All-America Team after the 2013 season.

Rodgers was unanimously selected as the GAC Offensive Player of the Year for the second straight year and was also named the Daktronics Super Region 3 Offensive Player of the Year. Last fall, he led the nation in passing yards per game at 400.6, total offense (399.5), was third in touchdowns thrown (40) and fourth in efficiency (178.64).

Rodgers completed 322-of-467 passes for 4,807 yards (eighth most in D2 history) and 40 touchdowns. He is the sixth quarterback in Division II history to throw for 4,000 or more yards in back-to-back seasons.

He has played in 30 games the last three years, having completed 727 of 1089 passes (67 percent) for 10,079 yards (336.0 yards per game) and 90 touchdowns. Rodgers has thrown for 300 yards or more 19 times, 400 yards or more nine times and 500 yards or more 4 times.

Having a 25-3 record as Henderson’s starting quarterback, Rodgers holds the HSU single-season and career records for yards passing, touchdowns, completion percentage, and pass efficiency.

Lest fans think it’s all about offense with the Reddies, Henderson returns four all-conference performers on the defensive side of the ball—including first-teamer Glennon Bobo at defensive end—and Maxfield prides himself on stopping other offenses.

But the HSU-OBU rivalry is not the only 2014 storyline among Arkansas’ GAC schools by a long shot.

Harding won the inaugural Live United Texarkana Bowl 44-3 over Texas A&M-Commerce last December at Texarkana Arkansas High School’s Razorback Stadium. It was the lone victory for a GAC football team in the postseason, as Henderson dropped a first-round NCAA Division II playoff game to St. Cloud State (Minn.).

The Bisons boast a returning All-America performer themselves. For the second straight year, running back Romo Westbrook was named a Don Hanson honorable mention All-America after rushing for a conference-best 1,123 yards. It was the fourth-most rushing yards ever by a Harding player in a single season. Westbrook, also name second team All-America by Beyond Sports Network, tied for the team lead with 12 rushing touchdowns and rushed for over 100 yards in a game five times, including four straight.

While Southern Arkansas must find a replacement for Tyler Sykora, a three-year starter in Magnolia who holds most, if not all, the Muleriders’ offensive records, SAU’s cupboard is far from bare.

After posting consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 2002 and 2003, the Muleriders have brought in three transfer quarterbacks at semester. SAU will also have to replace is leading rusher and two of its leading receivers for a year ago, but return the majority of a solid offensive line. Southern Arkansas also has several defensive holes to fill, including to first team All-GAC linebackers.

In Monticello, Arkansas-Monticello has just about the opposite problem. The Boll Weevils lost just one of their skilled position offensive playmakers from last season and boast, without a doubt, the best placekicker in the conference. Jamie McGee was selected for several postseason awards, including being named a Don Hansen honorable mention All-America, after setting UAM and GAC records for most field goals made in a season with 17.

And in Russellville, second-year coach Raymond Monica will seek replacements for almost everbody on offense at Arkansas Tech, as the Wonder Boys started 11 seniors on that side of the ball in the last game of 2013. Tech will also be installing a new offense under a first-year offensive coordinator.

For downloadable 2014 GAC football schedules for each Arkansas school, click here.

Only In Arkansas


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