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Saturday, Sep. 20, 2014

Redhawk coaches speak in Sikeston

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

(Photo)
New Southeast Missouri State University football coach Tony Samuel speaks to a group at the Sikeston Country Club.
SIKESTON -- Southeast Missouri State University introduced its two new coaches and returning women's basketball coach B.J. Smith to a large group of Redhawk boosters and fans at the Sikeston Country Club on Tuesday afternoon.

Smith, along with new men's basketball coach Scott Edgar and new football coach Tony Samuel, spoke to the group on their expectations at Southeast and encouraged financial support from the boosters.

Edgar said SEMO basketball program appealed to him many years ago when he was coaching for Ohio Valley Conference rival Murray State.

"I am pretty familiar with Southeast Missouri from coaching over at Murray State," said Edgar. "When I brought Murray teams over here I always was in awe of the Show Me Center and was very impressed with the support and the spirit at the games in the Show Me Center. I told my staff at State at that time that if anybody could challenge Murray and overtake Murray in this conference, it would be Southeast Missouri State. Now we have the opportunity and we're going to try to make the most of it."

Edgar has seven years of head coaching experience on his resume, compiling a career record of 108-95, including an impressive OVC record of 56-16.

Edgar inherits a team that went 7-20, including a dismal 4-16 OVC record, but some talented recruits and transfers have been added to the roster.

Edgar said he also intends to develop close relations with high schools in the region in his search for top-notch talent.

"We want to win inside-out and we want to build our program inside-out," said Edgar. "Recruiting at any level at any school is about communications. It's about relationships. We'll get out there, present the product and be community friendly. I've gotten to know some of the high school coaches already. I like to make a point to get to know every local high school and junior high coach and let them know that they're part of what we're trying to do and they're always welcome on our campus. I want them to come over and watch us play and watch us practice. I want to pick their brains. Just because I'm the college coach in this area doesn't mean that I have all the issues and all the answers."

SEMO's men's basketball team has had just one winning season since 2001.

Samuel takes over the SEMO football program from outgoing coach Tim Billings.

Like basketball, the Redhawk football program has had its struggles for a number of years, posting just one winning season since 1994.

Samuel didn't promise championships, but he says his teams will always play hard and try to win every game.

"We've only been here since January and I got a chance to work with the kids in the weight room and had 15 practices in the spring," said Samuel. "I think we're headed in the right direction. We've got a good group of kids coming back. I've never seen them in the actual battlefield yet, so we're still waiting to see how they respond to that. But they're working hard and hitting the weight room and that's a good sign. They're preparing themselves for what we need to get done."

Samuel, who was hired in late December, recruited most of the athletes that signed with SEMO in February. Although no local players signed with the Redhawks, Samuel made a point to look at the surrounding area first.

"We just came through spring recruiting which is a time when we canvassed the area for talent," said Samuel. "I thought we did a pretty good job of hitting about every high school in the vicinity. That was a big plan of ours. We were able to evaluate the talent here and see if there was anybody around that could play for us."

The 2006 SEMO football schedule was also released, highlighted by an Oct. 14 road date at the University of Arkansas.

Smith will be entering his fifth season at SEMO. The Redhawks are coming off the women's first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament, finishing 22-8 after falling to powerhouse Stanford.

Smith is 79-40 at SEMO and 193-60 overall.

While the Redhawks lose all-conference standout Tatiana Conceicao, Smith is happy to have two local high school products with his program in Dexter's Rachel Blunt and Charleston's Missy Whitney.

Blunt was a freshman on last year's team and saw action in 28 games off the bench and scoring in 13 of them.

Whitney, a 2004 Charleston grad, comes to SEMO after receiving junior college All-American honors at Three Rivers Community College the last two years.

"I think both of them will be a big factor with next year's team," said Smith. "Rachel's going to have a little quicker start than Missy because she's been with the program and knows what's expected. She's had a great spring and a great summer.

"Missy Whitney's a big-time talent. I think she's as good a junior college player as there was out there -- she just happened to be close. I think by December and January people are going to see a different Missy Whitney than they've seen before. She was a good high school player and a dang good junior college player. I think she'll be better for us than any place she's been. We're excited about both of them. I think they will both play a big factor on next year's team."