College Sports

Appalachian State's 5th-year seniors savor bookending title

Appalachian State linebacker John Law (88) is the only player on the Mountaineers’ roster who appeared in a game in 2012, when the team won the Southern Conference title. This season, Appalachian State has clinched at least a share of the Sun Belt Conference championship.
Appalachian State linebacker John Law (88) is the only player on the Mountaineers’ roster who appeared in a game in 2012, when the team won the Southern Conference title. This season, Appalachian State has clinched at least a share of the Sun Belt Conference championship. AP

Linebacker John Law had talked to running back Marcus Cox, another senior captain, about presenting coach Scott Satterfield with a game ball after Appalachian State’s 37-7 win Saturday at New Mexico State.

Law made it a solo mission as Cox joined others in the locker room celebration of an improbable Sun Belt Conference championship.

“Marcus was in the moment there,” Law said with a smile, “so I had to take the reins.”

Appalachian State (9-3, 7-1) has earned at least a share of its first league title since 2012, when it was an FCS program in the Southern Conference. Fittingly, Law is the only player on the current roster who appeared in a game that season.

Law is still around only because he rolled his ankle badly while stepping off the team bus a day before the Mountaineers’ fourth game in 2012. He took a redshirt season, and he’s one of six fifth-year seniors among the 17 players who will complete their college careers next month at another bowl.

Law, Barrett Burns, Alex Gray, Jamie Collmar, Tyson Fernandez and Darian Small have seen and experienced a lot through the school’s FCS-to-FBS transition.

“It’s been a good, long five years,” Collmar said. “I came in when we were at a high. Then we hit our lows, but this team and coaching staff, they never quit fighting for everybody. We just kept building it back up. ... My college career, finishing up with these last two seasons, going from greats to lows, back to greats, it’s been awesome.”

Satterfield returned to Appalachian State as an assistant in 2012, and he made his debut as a head coach the following season, when the Mountaineers went 4-8 in their FCS swan song. They started 1-5 in 2014 and won their final six games to finish third in the Sun Belt standings.

Appalachian State climbed to second place during an 11-2 season in 2015 and will, at minimum, be part of a first-place tie this year despite a Nov. 12 loss at Troy.

“We’ve come a long way since my freshman year,” senior punter Bentlee Critcher said. “It’s a sweet feeling.”

The Winston-Salem Journal is a news partner of the Observer. For more Appalachian State coverage go to http://www.journalnow.com/sports/asu/

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