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Wonder Boys Face Division I Foe Saturday

Image of For Monica, the contest marks a return to his native south Louisiana. The first-year Arkansas Tech coach grew up just 32 miles away from Thibodaux in Garyville, La., and he was a member of the Nicholls football program during his freshman year in college before going on to graduate from the University of North Alabama. “Growing up down there, I didn’t see anything unique about it,” said Monica when asked about life in Cajun country. “When you’re away, you hear people talk about it, but to me it’s still home. It’s a way of life. There will be some of my aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and nieces there and it will be great to see them, but football is football. We’ll line up to play and do the best that we can.” Arkansas Tech will attempt to do something this Saturday it has never accomplished --- defeat an NCAA Division I member in football. The Wonder Boys have not faced a Division I opponent in football since 1997, when they lost to both McNeese State University and Northwestern State University. Like McNeese State and Northwestern State, Nicholls is a member of NCAA Division I-Football Championship Subdivision and the Southland Conference. Times have been tough for the Colonels in recent years. Nicholls has experienced five consecutive losing seasons, including back-to-back 1-10 overall records in 2011 and 2012. But head coach Charlie Stubbs’ squad has already matched its win total from the last two seasons combined with early 2013 wins over Western Michigan University and Langston University. Among the reasons for the Colonels’ improvement in fortunes is their experience level. Nicholls returned 22 starters and 57 lettermen from a year ago. “(Nicholls) is doing a good job offensively through play action and deep crossing routes,” said Monica. “I’ve been very impressed by them. They also have a lot of guys who run extremely well on the defensive side of the ball. They are a lot bigger than us up front on both sides of the ball. That’s a concern of mine.” The Colonels switched to a 3-3 stack defense during the off-season, the same scheme that Arkansas Tech’s offense faced last week in a 49-7 win at Southern Nazarene University. “They do a lot of different things defensively,” said Monica. “They utilize multiple fronts, so we’ll have to figure out exactly where they are going to line up and try to attack them from there.” Reducing penalties will be among the keys to victory for the Wonder Boys this Saturday and every other Saturday through the end of the season. At 89.7 penalty yards per game, Arkansas Tech is the third-most penalized team in the Great American Conference in 2013. “I truly believe you are going to get some holding penalties if you are doing a good job blocking,” said Monica. “Not many of them, but they are going to happen some. The foolish penalties are the ones we need to improve upon. To me, that starts in practice. If you don’t make those mistakes in practice, you won’t make them in the game.” The Wonder Boys will play their third consecutive road game on Saturday, Oct. 5, when they take on the University of Arkansas at Monticello Boll Weevils for a 3 p.m. GAC contest at Convoy Leslie Cotton Boll Stadium in Monticello. Arkansas Tech will return home to host Southern Arkansas University for a 6 p.m. GAC game at Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field in Russellville on Saturday, Oct. 12.]]>