St. Augustine's building a CIAA winner

By Jessie H. Nunery

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St. Augustine’s has not built itself as a silver spoon football program.

The campus, nestled in downtown Raleigh, reintroduced football in 2002, and it has taken a decade’s worth of work to emerge as a contender in an ever-competitive CIAA Conference.

Coach Michael Costa’s team is putting a quality team on the field despite the lack of amenities often found at lower divisions of football and even some high schools.

“It does take time, but if you’re patient and try to do things the right way, there’s a whole lot of models we can follow,” said Costa, whose Falcons will play Elizabeth City State at 4 p.m. Saturday in the 15th annual Down East Viking Football Classic at the Rocky Mount Sports Complex. “It can’t happen overnight. A lot of things take time.”

The obstacles are big and small. Instead of meeting in a fieldhouse, the Falcons often use classrooms to break down film and discuss gameplans.

Their weightroom has the necessary equipment, but players work out in groups because the space is too small to accommodate the entire team.

St. Augustine’s – which recently upgraded from College to University status – is in the process of completing the George Williams Athletic Complex, but for now, the team plays home games at Durham County Stadium.

“There are always some challenges but the biggest thing is we have been able to persevere,” Costa said. “The young men have come in and done the things we’ve asked them to do. They’ve come in, graduated and done great things. I know they got something out of it, and they’ve put something into it. All that was helping to build a process.”

Costa said it all has helped the Falcons (3-1, 1-0 CIAA) develop a work ethic. It has extended to the field, where the program is two years removed from a 9-2 season that included the school’s first bowl victory.

The 2012 team is motivated.

The Falcons want to be consistent and not have a drop-off like they did in 2011 when they finished 4-6.

There have been bulletin points along the way. The squad came within a touchdown of defeating Winston-Salem State last season, a team that reached the Division II semifinals.

The Falcons lost to then 12th-ranked New Haven by a field goal this season. Last week, they easily defeated Bowie State, 38-22, in a matchup of teams predicted to finish second in the league’s Northern and Southern divisions.

Wide receiver Tyron Laughinghouse, a Greenville product, leads the Falcons offensively. He finished with nine touchdowns last season (eight receiving, one punt return).

Costa, who has previously served as an assistant at Elizabeth City State for four seasons, said he and his team are looking forward to another big game this weekend. It’s another opportunity for the Falcons to show the league who they are.

“We’re going to give you the best you can see,” Costa said. “It’s about the young men. They come to get a degree and they play some great football.”

 

Jessie H. Nunery can be reached at 407-9959 or jhnunery@rmtelegram.com


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