Optimistic Flashes prepare for upcoming football season

Freshman wide receiver Kavious Price models Kent State’s new Under Armour jerseys for the 2016-2017 season at the football team’s media day at Dix Stadium on Sunday, Aug. 7, 2016.

Henry Palattella

Last year was a year of growing pains for the Kent State football team.

In the 2015 season, the Flashes limped to a 3-9 (2-6 Mid-American Conference) finish, which warranted the team a fifth place finish in the MAC East.

The Flashes were a young team last year, sporting only 13 graduating seniors. This led to some struggles: the team averaged 68.9 penalty yards per game, which was the 13th highest such total in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision.

Despite these challenges, the Flashes’ youth movement had some serious positives as it gave playing time to young talented players such as Antwan Dixon, George Bollas, Raekwon James and Myles Washington, whom were all freshman last year.

The Flashes also had five players named to the All-MAC team last year, with three of those players returning for 2016.

Then-senior safety Nathan Holley, junior cornerback Demetrius Monday and senior defensive lineman Terence Waugh were all named first team All-MAC selection.

This will be head coach Paul Haynes’ fourth year behind the headset for Kent State. Haynes has amassed a record of 9-26 in his first three years as head coach.


This will be year two for Don Treadwell as the Flashes’ offensive coordinator following an up and down first year. Kent’s offense could not find consistency in 2015; the Flashes were held without an offensive touchdown in six of their 12 games.

The team averaged 13.1 points and 271 yards per game, which equated to last and second to last in the nation, respectively.      

Senior Colin Reardon was the starting quarterback for most of last season, finishing the year with 81 completions for 901 yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions.

Sophomore George Bollas appeared in 12 games for the Flashes last year and made the most of his opportunities, completing 94 passes for 756 yards with two touchdowns, and seven interceptions to go along with 275 rushing yards and one touchdown on the ground.

Reardon took his hat out of the quarterback race this year, as he has now switched positions to wide receiver.

 “It’s actually kind of an easy transition,” Reardon said in regards to his new position change. “As a quarterback you have to know the offense, you have to know the plays, everything like that so it just kind of makes it a little easier in that sense; it’s not really learning anything new besides technique.”

Haynes is grateful for Reardon’s flexibility and is ready to have Reardon contribute on the field.

“I commend Colin for making the change—that’s an ultimate team sacrifice to change positions, especially from quarterback,” Haynes said  “He’s taken it in stride, he’s worked hard, he’s had some injuries but we’ll get him back out there and he’ll be a contributor to this year somehow.” 

This now leaves the starting quarterback position up for grabs and Haynes is making it a competition for the starting spot.  

“I have to say it is a competition because we haven’t named a starter,” Haynes said. “Again, you look at George Bollas, you look at Justin Agner, Mylik Mitchell and then we have a walk-on Pat Ford, so when you look at those four guys, and it’s not going to be something that we wait until the week of Penn State to name, we’re going to name it sometime here in a week or two.”

 The starting running back spot will also be up for grabs as last year’s leading rusher Trayion Durham (428 yards and 3 touchdowns) has since graduated, leaving sophomores Raekwon James (261 yards on 76 carries) and Myles Washington (102 yards on 32 carries) to get the action in the backfield.

 The Flashes have a deep receiving core and it only gets deeper with the addition of Reardon.

Sophomore Antwan Dixon had a breakout year as a freshman in 2015, as he led the receiving core with 26 receptions for 355 yards and a touchdown, in addition to his 162 yards and two scores on the ground. 

Senior Earnest Calhoun was a key contributor for the Kent offense last year, as he had 224 receiving yards and a team-high three touchdown receptions.

Junior Kris White (21 rec, 225 yards) and sophomore Johnny Woods (22 rec, 170 yards, 1 TD) were both steady receivers for the Flashes last year.  



The Flashes were dominant on defense last year, finishing the year ranked as the 27th defense in the nation, giving up an average of 250.1 yards per game.

Despite this, Coach Haynes still believes there is room for this team to improve defensively.

“We played well in the pre-season, we didn’t play well against MAC opponents,” Hayes said in regards to the defense. “When you look at the numbers, we had some good numbers defensively, but when you hold someone to -33 yards, you’re going to have a great season number-wise, unless you give you 800 yards to somebody, which we didn’t.

When breaking down the numbers a little bit, Hayes said, the Flashes aren’t as good as everyone’s making them out to be.

All-MAC safety Nate Holley was a catalyst for the Kent State defense last year, as he was the MAC leader in total tackles with 141, and averaged 11.8 tackles per game. This gave him the fourth best average in the nation.

Fellow All-MAC member Demetrius Monday is the ballhawk of the team’s defense, and he led the Flashes with six interceptions, one of which he took 69 yards for a touchdown.

“The defense was pretty good, but we are just trying to make it a team thing,” Monday said. “Trying to build up all our weak points and get better as a team and become more close-knit.”

The Flashes will also have a strong presence at the line and in the trenches. That begins and ends will All-MAC selection Terence Waugh.

Waugh lead the Flashes with nine sacks last year and 12 tackles for loss.

Senior linebacker Elcee Refuge (2.5 sacks, 9.5 TFL) and junior nose tackle Jon Cunningham (2.5 Sacks, 6.5 TFL) are not slouches either.

This year could be a successful year for the Flashes. They have one of the most dominant defenses in all of college football and young players at the skill positions.

If they are able to show poise and maturity—and can create chemistry and work together as a team—their potential might just be unlimited.