WINSTON-SALEM Appalachian State will begin football camp Friday. Its a fresh start that perhaps no one welcomes more than coach Scott Satterfield.
His first season in charge went nothing like he had hoped or expected, but some obstacles were built in.
The Mountaineers were ineligible for the Southern Conference championship and Football Championship Subdivision playoffs because of their transition to the Sun Belt Conference and Football Bowl Division. They also were relatively young, especially on defense in their first season using a 3-4 alignment. Appalachian State also had a quarterback who wasnt at full speed to start the season.
Seven games in, the Mountaineers were 1-6.
Obviously Ill never forget that first year as head coach, and having to go through all the stuff we went through, Satterfield said.
The two home losses, to N.C. A&T and Charleston Southern, obviously were low points, but probably the lowest point was going to Furman. I thought we would play well that game, and the very first snap we put the ball on the ground. We ended up fumbling eight times that day; we threw a (interception for a touchdown). That was a low point. We went into the locker room that day about as low as you can go.
I also think that was the point these guys decided to really start playing. The next week, Georgia Southern came in, and we played the best game we had played all year. That was App State football.
Looking back, it wouldnt have taken much for a 4-8 season to have been 8-4.
Losses to N.C. A&T, Charleston Southern and The Citadel were by three points each, and the Mountaineers failed to hold a fourth-quarter lead during a seven-point loss to Chattanooga.
But fine lines count. It was the Mountaineers first losing season since 1993 that was Satterfields first season as Appalachian States starting quarterback.
The 2014 season will bring new challenges.
The Mountaineers will face stronger competition in their first season in the Sun Belt. And their opening game will be at Michigan.
Satterfield said his team has focused not on how poorly last season began but on how much better it ended.
The encouraging thing for me is that our guys did not fold the tent, Satterfield said. They kept working, they kept with the process, and we ended up on a strong note winning three of our last four FCS games and playing well.
Thats what well take from last year. Thats what we took into the offseason. Weve had a great summer, we have a great strength staff, and I cant say enough about them. You take all that, and you build on it.
Through it all, Satterfield said, you tell the kids that when you face adversity, thats how you grow and get better. Is it easy to do? No. But its true.
Satterfield said he also draws from the 93 season. The Mountaineers were 4-7 but won their final three games and went on to fine seasons in his final two years as quarterback.
Finishing strong, thats what its about, he said. You continue to believe in the process. Its worked for us here.
We feel we had a great recruiting class,. We had the highest GPA this past spring weve ever had, a 2.9 cumulative for our team. Weve had more community-service effort. So were doing the right things off the field. Now weve just got to take that and go get some Ws on the field.
The Winston-Salem Journal is a news partner of the Observer. For more Appalachian State coverage go to www.journalnow.com/sports/asu/
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