Charleston Southern vs. North Greenville: Battle of unbeaten teams

CSU head coach Jamey Chadwell and the Bucs take on North Greenville at 11 a.m. Saturday. (Paul Zoeller/Staff)

There are enough storylines in Saturday’s game between Charleston Southern and North Greenville to write a book.

Both teams enter the game undefeated, CSU at 5-0 and North Greenville at 4-0. CSU head coach Jamey Chadwell spent three seasons as the head coach at North Greenville, guiding the program to 20 wins in his last two seasons (2010-2011) at the school.

Current CSU receivers coach Willy Korn played quarterback for a season at North Greenville, guiding them to an 11-3 record in 2011.

CSU redshirt freshman Danny Croghan, a Bishop England grad, is making his first collegiate start as he subs for senior Malcolm Dixon, who was injured in last week’s upset of Appalachian State.

And, finally, both schools are private faith-based institutions supported by the South Carolina Baptist Convention, leading some to dub the contest “The Battle of the Baptists.”

The Buccaneers are playing only their second home game of the season, and after a three-game road swing that included wins over Campbell, Norfolk State and Appalachian State, Chadwell says his team is excited to be at home again.

“It has been a while so I think with the start that we have had, the fans and the student body will be excited and it should be a great atmosphere,” Chadwell said. “North Greenville has a lot of kids from South Carolina so I am sure they will bring a lot of fans. I expect it will be a great environment.”

Atmosphere aside, Chadwell says his team will have to play well to improve to 6-0. The Crusaders bring a talented team into the 11 a.m. game, averaging 36 points per game and already owning a win over Big South member VMI.

North Greenville quarterback Nelson Hughes has thrown 12 touchdown passes in four games, and receiver Freddie Martino has caught 45 passes this season. That is four more catches than CSU’s entire team through five games.

CSU has won 10 of 11 meetings between the two schools.

“They will come down here not hoping to win, but expecting to win,” said Chadwell. “If we don’t play to the level that we are capable of, they can beat us. We recruited a lot of those kids in our last two years there, and I know the type of character and passion those kids have for football. They will be ready to play.

“To me, it’s similar to what we experienced last week at Appalachian State. Our guys believed they could compete and win, and we played with great passion and intensity. North Greenville is bringing that same intensity here on Saturday and we have to be able to match it.”

CSU will continue to rely on a running game that has evolved into one of the top rushing units in the Big South Conference, averaging 224 yards per game. Junior Christian Reyes has rushed for 516 yards with back-to-back 100-yard efforts. Freshman Ben Robinson also has been effective, but Dixon is the team’s second-leading rusher.

The running game will be important with a new quarterback, but Chadwell says Croghan can run the offense as is, without the need for change.

“He knows the offense and he practices it everyday so we don’t have to change what we do,” said Chadwell. “Obviously Malcolm brings a different skill set with his running ability, but Danny can make plays too. We’re not worried about how Danny will play.”