by Doug Ireland

When you start with a running back named Scooter, that’s good.

And that cat can scat.

Scooter Adams was one of the prizes in the Northwestern State football recruiting class of 2020, joining the Demons at mid-year from Kilgore (Texas) College after spurning offers from eventual FCS national champion Sam Houston and nearby rival Stephen F. Austin in his home state.

He immediately exploded into action at NSU as the Demons played six spring games, scoring seven touchdowns and averaging 8.0 yards per carry – second in the nation.

So every discussion of the NSU Demons’ prospects this fall begin with Scooter – who wasn’t even the first Demon ball carrier to make a big splash in the spring.

That was freshman Aubrey Scott, from nearby North DeSoto High School, who ran for 119 yards in his college debut, including an 80-yard TD against Nicholls. He soon banged up a shoulder and the bulk of his workload fell to Adams, who proved more than capable.

If you’re thinking the Demons may be leaning on the running game this fall, and not the passing attack, you’d be correct.

We’ll get to watch soon. NSU opens Sept. 4 at North Texas, then goes to Alcorn State Sept. 11 and kicks off the home schedule in Natchitoches Sept. 18 at 6 p.m. against Tennessee-Martin.

That’s the first of five homefield appearances, along with Oct. 2 (Incarnate Word, 6 p.m), Oct. 16 (McNeese, 3 p.m), Oct. 23 (homecoming vs. Southeastern, 3 p.m.) and Nov. 6 (Houston Baptist, 3 p.m.).

All of NSU’s games, except at Alcorn State, will be available on the ESPN3 or ESPN Plus online platforms. Check for more info.

Pulling on the purple and white (with orange trim) this fall: true freshman quarterback Judd Barton, who helped Alexandria Senior High come within one play of the Class 5A state title last December; redshirt freshman running back Deus Desire’ from Pineville; true freshman offensive linemen Brody Heard and Cole Jeansonne from ASH; and linebacker Riley Bond from Jena. Watch for those young men to develop and emerge in future seasons in the NSU lineup.

As for Demons who will help define this fall’s storylines, returning All-Southland Conference defenders Shemar Bartholomew and Jomard Valsin (also a second-team All-American at linebacker) top the list.

They anchor a unit with 10 returning starters. Fourth-year head coach Brad Laird says there’s no doubt the defense will be his strongest attribute this fall, and that’s been evident in preseason camp.

Another asset is sophomore punter Scotty Roblow, who came to Natchitoches as a highly regarded kicker from Shreveport’s Byrd High School. He had a rough start in 2019, missing some short kicks before getting knocked out – literally – on a kickoff at Houston Baptist. That concussion benched him for the rest of that season, and also ultimately retasked him into the punter’s role. This spring, in his Demon debut in that capacity, Roblow earned third-team All-Southland honors.

NSU is yearning for a breakthrough season. It’s been too long between winning seasons (2008 was the last, with a pair of 6-6 marks in 2013 and 2014, including a win at Louisiana Tech).

The spring campaign was tantalizing, as the Demons were close, but no cigar in one-score losses to Nicholls, Southeastern, Sam Houston and Lamar, before ending the slate with a last-play 49-47 victory at nationally ranked Incarnate Word.

That earned Laird a ride to midfield on his players’ shoulders. It was also the end of the last game for NSU to compete against Sam Houston, SFA, Abilene Christian, Lamar and Central Arkansas in the Southland race.

Those were the league’s five high-dollar schools. They funded football – and all their sports – at exorbitant levels that their Louisiana league colleagues simply couldn’t afford. Now the smaller, retooled Southland has six football members, all aligned with the same general fiscal approach – that being, responsible. No coaches are making $400,000, for example. The shoes fit.

That also means the competitive climb isn’t as steep, and so NSU’s road to resurgence is within sight, possibly as soon as this season.


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