Drinkwitz leads App State football into training camp

BOONE — New Appalachian State head football coach Eliah Drinkwitz is very aware of the success the Mountaineers have enjoyed over the past 30 years.

Under coaches Jerry Moore and Scott Satterfield, the Mountaineers have experienced just three losing seasons, four bowl victories and three Division I-AA/Football Championship Subdivision national championships during that stretch. Drinkwitz knows the high expectations placed on App State’s current players and coaching staff.

It’s up to him and the Mountaineers’ staff to lead the players to meet those expectations.

“I appreciate the foundation that coach Moore and coach Satterfield left in respect to the fact that it takes expectations to play for championships and win championships,” Drinkwitz said on Media Day at the Mark Ricks Center. “You embrace the target and you embrace the situation, but for us it’s about the difference from preference and performance. It’s not about how you prefer to do things. It’s about what’s going to help us have the best performance possible.”

Drinkwitz will have to meet those goals with some players who will not be available. Defensive lineman Nate Haskins and offensive linemen Luke Burnette have been “officially medically disqualified,” according to Drinkwitz, but said both players will still be allowed to stay and pursue a degree.

Drinkwitz said defensive back A.J. Beach was no longer on the team, but did not elaborate why. App State defensive lineman Chris Willis was lost for the season with a non-contact lower leg injury. As with Haskins and Burnette, the extent of Willis’ injury was not revealed.

Drinkwitz also delayed any announcement on the status of receiver Corey Sutton, who was arrested for possession of marijuana on a Boone traffic stop in June.

“We are still waiting for the judicial process and student conduct to play out,” Drinkwitz said of Sutton. “Once those two things have played out, then I’ll be able to make a decision based on the evidence or information that we have at that time. As soon as I (have) that information I’ll make an announcement regarding that situation.”

The rest of the Mountaineers checked in Aug. 1. Drinkwitz said making sure the Mountaineers were handed out equipment and had living quarters had to be finalized first.

“We’ll start with media training and being in the spotlight,” Drinkwitz said, followed by an equipment check with their coaches. “We’ll follow up with academics, follow with a schedule for the next 19 days and exactly what we’re doing every single day.”

Drinkwitz said he was anxious to get started preparing for the Mountaineers’ season.

“We’re excited for fall camp,” Drinkwitz said. “It’s a common phrase for us, but it’s really a training camp. We’re exciting about beginning the process of training for everything that’s going to present itself this season. We’ve got a strong football team. We’ve got a great staff. The biggest challenge for us is to become an us unit, become the 2019 Mountaineers and that’s what we’re really focused on for the next three weeks.”

After the three weeks, the Mountaineers were concentrate on their first game, which is Aug. 31 at home against East Tennessee State.

“We’ll spend the next three weeks of training camp and lastly we’ll turn are attention to our first opponent,” Drinkwitz said.

App in the USA Today poll

Appalachian State received four points in the USA Today Coaches poll released Aug. 1.

The Mountaineers finished 45th overall in the poll. One of the Mountaineers’ 2019 opponents, South Carolina, received 15 points.

Clemson topped the poll with 59 first-place votes, while Alabama is second with six first-place votes. Georgia, Oklahoma and Ohio State rounded out the top five.

Mountaineers men’s basketball 2019-20 schedule released

NEW ORLEANS — The Sun Belt Conference has announced the men’s basketball schedule for the upcoming 2019-20 season.

The conference moves back to a 20-game conference schedule compared to an 18-game conference slate for men’s basketball for the first time since the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.

The upcoming season’s conference slate will keep a primary Thursday-Saturday format with league games played against travel partners for two-game road trips to maximize rest, minimize travel times and limit missed class time.

All App State home games will tip at 7 p.m. on weeknights and 4 p.m. on weekends. App State opens conference play on the road in Alabama at South Alabama on Dec. 19 and Troy on Dec. 21.

The Mountaineers return to Boone for three straight contests on Jan. 2 versus Georgia State, Jan. 4 against Georgia Southern and Jan. 6 against Louisiana.

The Mountaineers head right back on the road for a pair of road games in Texas on Jan. 9 (at UT Arlington) and Jan. 11 (at Texas State), before returning to the Holmes Center to face Arkansas State (Jan. 16) and Little Rock (Jan. 18).

App State embarks on a three-game road trip, beginning at Coastal Carolina on Jan. 25. The Mountaineers also take on Arkansas State on Jan. 30 and Little Rock on Feb. 1.

February features five home contests for the Mountaineers, with meetings against UT Arlington (Feb. 6), Texas State (Feb. 8), South Alabama (Feb. 20), Troy (Feb. 22) and Coastal Carolina (Feb. 29) in the Holmes Center. App State makes a trip to Georgia in February to square off against Georgia State (Feb. 13) and Georgia Southern (Feb. 15).

Conference and regular season play concludes on March 3 with a contest at Louisiana-Monroe.

The 2020 Sun Belt Men’s Basketball Championship will once again see 10 vying for the tournament title and the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. First-round games on Saturday, March 7, second-round games on Monday, March 9 and quarterfinal games on Wednesday, March 11 will be held on campus sites and hosted by the higher seeds.

The semifinals on Saturday, March 14, and championship game on Sunday, March 15, will be held at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. The No. 1 and No. 2 seeds will receive byes directly to the semifinals, the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds will receive byes and host the quarterfinal games, the No. 5 and No. 6 seeds will host the second-round games and the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds will host the first-round games.

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