Former football player reflects on time at Wingate, looks forward to future

Alex Virgilio, Sports Writer

Former Wingate University wide receiver Jaiquis Tyheem Stokes, more commonly known as JT Stokes, is willing to tell  about his past football career and hopeful future.

Stokes is planning on graduating at the end of this semester with a major in psychology and a double minor in communications and sports management. He is not only a student athlete, but a God-fearing man.

“It’s kind of a cliche, but I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Stokes says, when talking about where he gets motivation to be the best that he can be.

Stokes started his football career at the young age of five years old. His father, Tim Stokes, served as his “role model” as he played professional football for a few years in Europe and in the U.S. in the Arena Football League. Stokes says he used to watch his father play in the Arena Football League and that pushed Stokes to one day play professional football.

However, Stokes was not always the star wide receiver that the Bulldog community knows and loves; he actually started his career as a running back. Stokes made the transition from running back to wide receiver his freshman year of high school, but never forgot the skills he learned from his young career as a running back as he rushed for 186 career yards and 2 touchdowns for the Bulldogs. Stokes, who added 1,310 career receiving yards and 10 touchdowns, credits his two wide receiver coaches, Ross Jenkins and Nathan Poole.

Jenkins, an ex-college quarterback at Louisiana Tech, was an offensive coordinator who coached wide receivers (at Wingate), according to Stokes. “Coach Jenkins is the one who brought me here (to Wingate). He taught me a lot about offensive schemes.”  

Poole, a former NFL wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals from 2002-2004 and the New Orleans Saints in 2005, only coached Stokes for one year but taught him the art and the technique of playing Wide Receiver. Stokes, who was on his way to a record breaking year, had his senior season cut short due to injury at Limestone early in the first half. He suffered an ACL tear in his left knee, and did not return for the remaining three games.

Although Stokes did not compete in the last three games of his senior season, he is determined to not let this injury will not keep him from continuing his football career.

“It taught me to keep my faith. God sometimes tests our faith to see if we can handle the blessings,”said Stokes.

Stokes is in active conversation with potential agents and football leagues such as the Alliance of American Football League who believe that despite this setback, Stokes can make it to the next level.

Edited by Brendan Shriver

Wingate Baseball begins season on a positive note

Ashley Garcia, Sports Writer

The Wingate Bulldogs began their baseball season at home with a 12-3 and 3-2 win in a doubleheader against the University of West Georgia Wolves. The next day, the Bulldogs beat the Wolves again with a score of 8-5.

In the fourth and fifth innings of the first game, seniors Andrew Llewellyn and Tanner Forry both hit a home run. In the third game, Forry hit another home run.

“I thought we pitched it very well today, and that was the big part we did today,” said Wingate Head Coach Jeff Gregory. “Obviously in the first game, we swung it really well and in the second game I thought our guys did a great job with the pitching.”

Pitcher Austin Turgeon played six innings with eight strikeouts in the first game and David Nash pitched for the first five innings in the third game.“Even though I made some mistakes, our team was still able to score some runs,” Turgeon said.

But it was the freshman that really stepped up in the three games.

Junior McCann Mellett said, “I thought personally that a lot of freshmen would help us out this year, and I knew they would in the first weekend. And I’m very pleased that they did.”

After practicing since the beginning of August and winning three games on opening weekend, the team was very happy and proud of how the games turned out.

“It felt good to get out here and play somebody else. It felt good to get out on to the plate,” shortstop Reece Daniel said.

With their record being 3-0, the team expects the season to be very successful, but also be able to fix mistakes along the way.

“With this group that we have together this year, I’m expecting this season to be really successful. Even though we won our first three games, we still have a lot to clean up and to get better,” said David Nash.

The Bulldogs will return home to play a three-game series against Erskine College on Feb. 14 and 15, with two games on the 15th.

Edited by Brendan Shriver

Wingate wins 6th straight by beating Tusculum on Senior Day; advances to playoffs

Brendan Shriver, Staff Writer

Wingate built a 16-0 halftime lead and held on for a 16-12 victory over visiting Tusculum on Nov. 10. With its sixth-straight victory, Wingate (8-3 overall, 5-2 SAC) clinches second place in the final SAC regular-season standings.

Wingate senior defensive back Cameron Mattison celebrated Senior Day in style with a 44-yard interception return for a TD while freshman running back Nijere Peoples carried the ball 25 times for 82 yards to finish his first season with 994 rushing yards.

“We are very proud of our seniors and the great leadership they provided all year. The defense came up big all game. The 10 points off turnovers were the difference,” Wingate Head Football Coach Joe Reich says.

It was a dominating effort for the Wingate defensive unit. They recorded seven sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss, forced six fumbles and recovered one of them.

The leader of the defense that night was Cardell Rawlings. He had 8 tackles, 2.5 sacks and forced a fumble.

Offensively, the Bulldogs did just enough to win. Wingate had no turnovers and scored a touchdown and a field goal in their two trips to the red zone.

To start the game, freshman Ra’Quan Simmons returned the kickoff 51 yards. His return set up Wingate’s only offensive touchdown, a 17-yard strike from Shaw Crocker to Mason Flynt.

Following Mattison’s pick-six, Tusculum fumbled on their next possession. Wingate took advantage of the miscue, as redshirt freshman placekicker McLean Robertson nailed a 38-yard field goal to conclude the first half scoring, giving the Bulldogs a 16-0 lead at halftime.

In a scoreless third quarter, Tusculum missed two field goals attempts, one of which was blocked by Robbie Wallace from 24 yards out with 1:36 left in the frame. Finally, Tusculum scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to avoid the shutout.

With the win, Wingate advances to the NCAA Division II football playoffs this Saturday. They will play on the road against West Georgia at 12 noon.

Edited by Brendan Shriver

Student Organization Brings Veterans Week to Campus

By: Matthew Myers, Staff Writer

Starting on Monday, Nov. 5, Wingate’s Student Veteran Organization and EKS are launching a week-long campaign for veterans awareness. Spearheaded by SVO and Friends of the Library, Veterans Week is promised to be filled with opportunities so that students may learn and have a better understanding of our military personnel.

Five lyceums will be held throughout the week. On Monday, Brigadier General Powell, Chief of Staff for the Army National Guard and father of Wingate student Taylor Powell, will be speaking about his career and service to others.

Marine Corps veteran, and author, Tracy Crow will present Lyceums on Tuesday and Wednesday covering her literary works. Crow will also conduct a workshop on Thursday, Nov. 9  about cathartic writing.

Thursday evening the campus will welcome Bonnie Amos, wife of the former Commandant of the Marine Corps, to discuss her 42 1/2 years as a military spouse. Her husband, General Amos, was the guest speaker on Founder’s Day 2017, and they have had a Wingate scholarship for grad school established in their honor.

Friday night, in McGee theatre, the SVO will be screening American Sniper and conducting a panel discussion/Q&A with student veterans who have served overseas.

Additionally, there will be interactive displays and events, daily, from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. outside Starbucks with SWAG for those students who participate. The events will vary and are subject to change, but students will be exposed to various elements of military life.

Saturday will be the “bookend” for the week as Tailgating for the Troops will be at the football game having banners signed to send overseas and SVO will be announcing the winner of the corn hole board raffle at halftime.

What should students expect to get out of this week? According to Gordon Sprague with SVO, “Students should expect to get out of this what they put into it. It sounds cliché, however, that is a cliché that is ingrained into every recruit from the first day of basic training. The end goal for the week is to provide a unique insight to students unfamiliar with the military. It is our hope that they become more aware of the adversity faced and diversity brought to the university by veterans.”

Veterans Week is not limited to students. According to Sprague, “If students have friends, family, or community members that are veterans and/or supporters of the military that would like to attend any of these events, make sure they invite them.”

Edited By: Rachael Robinson

Bulldogs win big over Mars Hill on Homecoming

Brendan Shriver, Staff Writer

The Wingate University Bulldogs scored the fourth-most points in program history on Oct. 20, racing out to a 44-14 halftime lead en route to a 58-21 victory over visiting Mars Hill University in front of a capacity crowd on Homecoming weekend at Irwin Belk Stadium in South Atlantic Conference football action. Wingate wins its third straight, improving to 5-3 overall and 2-2 in the SAC.

“It was a very physical, aggressive game for us. We did a really nice job of getting after them physically,” Wingate Head Football Coach Joe Reich says.

As a team, Wingate piled up a season-high 534 yards, including 284 on the ground, collected 5 turnovers and scored 7 touchdowns in as many trips to the red zone.

Quarterback Shaw Crocker and running back Nijere Peoples led the Bulldog offense. Crocker was 13-for-15 for 223 yards and 2 TDs and ran for a TD in the second half. Peoples had career highs of 33 carries, 166 yards and 2 TDs.

Cardell Rawlings and Joe Kelly led the Wingate defensive unit. Rawlings had 9 tackles while Kelly registered 8 tackles.

Despite the lopsidedness of the score, Wingate trailed only 7-0. But it only took 4 plays for the Bulldogs to tie it up and after a bad snap on a punt that resulted in a safety by Floyd Louallen to make it 9-7 Bulldogs, Wingate was off and running with quick drives from that point forward.

Wingate returns home for Senior Day against the Tusculum Pioneers on Saturday, Nov. 10 after two straight weeks on the road at Newberry and Limestone, respectively.

Edited by Brendan Shriver

Wingate drops heartbreaker to Florida Tech, 26-23 after mishandling extra point

Brendan Shriver, Staff Writer

The Wingate University Bulldogs looked to be on their way to tying the game in the final minute of regulation on Sept. 29, but a failed PAT returned for a score finished off a 26-23 victory for visiting Florida Tech. With the loss, the Bulldogs fall to 2-3 on the year.

“We had some opportunities and had a nice drive there at the end. Unfortunate to miss the chance to tie it up, it’s something we’ve done a million times so it’s unfortunate,” Wingate Head Football Coach Joe Reich says.

JT Stokes and Nijere People’s led the offensive unit for the Bulldogs. For the second straight week, Stokes had more than 100 yards receiving, with seven catches for 185 yards and a touchdown in the loss. People’s had 23 carries for a career-high 133 yards and two touchdowns.

Defensively, Robbie Wallace and Auntrell Mack led with 11 tackles each. Kam Johnson also had nine tackles.

After a scoreless first quarter, Wingate took a 10-7 lead at halftime on a 20-yard field goal by Mclean Robertson. Then after a nearly scoreless third quarter, the final 17 minutes were wild.

Peoples scored his second TD of the day to give Wingate a 17-14 lead on the last play of the quarter. After a Florida Tech touchdown and field goal to make it 24-17 in favor of the visitors, Wingate drove down the field in hopes of redeeming themselves for the missed opportunities that would have tied the game against Lenoir-Rhyne the week before. For the second straight week, they couldn’t muster a tie and a chance to win it in overtime.

Crocker hit Stokes for the touchdown to make it 24-23, but the snap on the PAT bounced and the desperate attempt at a kick was blocked. Florida Tech then proceeded to return it for the game-clinching 2 points and after a failed onside kick, the Panthers had secured their victory.

Wingate is on the road this Saturday, traveling to UNC Pembroke for a 7 p.m. start.

Edited by Brendan Shriver

UNCW Group Aims to Rebuild Community

By Harrison Taylor, Staff Writer

Three weeks ago, the South Eastern United States was hit by Category two Hurricane Florence, and no city on the coast was devastated more than Wilmington, North Carolina.

Hundreds of students from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW) were displaced, as the school told students who lived in their student housing to go home. Other University of North Carolina schools, like the University of North Carolina at Asheville, opened their doors to students who could not go home during the storm.

But, before the storm even hit, a group of UNCW students were determined to help their surrounding community.

We Wilm Rebuild, a Go Fund Me project and non-profit student organization, aims to help those displaced by the storm (particularly the poor and underprivileged in the area) with drives at several different UNC schools and beyond. The project was started by UNCW students Jaz Vanscoy, Wes Porter, Valentina Pantani, and Gabe Castro.

“I was following the hurricane a few days before it hit, and I started posting stuff on social media, asking others and saying, ‘Hey, let’s start gathering supplies now’” said Vanscoy, who’s been working on this project since its inception.

Porter then reached out to Vanscoy, and together, along with Valentina and Gabe, created We Wilm Rebuild.

The group aims to help the lower income communities of Wilmington, and their Go Fund Me page has already raised over $10,000, with their Facebook and Instagram pages serving as hubs for those who wish to donate supplies or help with the cause.

“There are some people who chose not to evacuate…and then there are those who couldn’t evacuate. We want to help those who couldn’t,” said Vanscoy, whose intentions to help the lower income community of Wilmington remain present and clear.

We Wilm Rebuild can be found on Instagram under the username wewilmrebuild & their Go Fund Me here.

Edited By: Rachael Robinson