SFA Coaches In Tyler - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

6/11/07

SFA Coaches In Tyler

Stephen F. Austin's football team will be led by it's third coach in four seasons. And J.C. Harper is working East Texas these days, getting the word out that Lumberjack football is as strong as ever. Harper was the featured speaker in Tyler tonight for one of ten coaches night receptions sponsored by SFA alumni. The former Lumberjacks defensive coordinator told the gathered crowd, his team is ready to bring the school it's first outright conference title since 1989.

"We've got 10 of 11 starters returning on offense, we've got 8 of 11 starters back on defense," Harper said.  "We feel like we have the best player on the offensive side of the ball in our league in (running back) Louie Runnels and we've got the best player on defense in (Hallsville native, linebacker) Damian Perkins. We feel like we're pretty doggone close. We just need to keep doing what we're doing and keep working hard and having fun."

The Lumberjacks open their season at home, September 1 against Tarleton State.

Another coach in attendance at Don Juan's tonight was head women's basketball coach Lee Ann Riley, back home where she led the Lady Apaches to the national championship in 2000.

"It's great to be home," Riley said.  "It's funny, I'm only about an hour away, but I don't get up here as much as I want, but I love Tyler and everybody that knows me knows that this place is probably the most special place in the world to me."

Riley was the 2006 SLC Coach of the Year after leading the Lady Jacks to the conference title.  They followed that up with another run to the SLC conference tournament finals and a WNIT appearance.  Riley feels confidant her squad can build on that success.

"You've got to have the right players," Riley explained, "and convince them that SFA is a special, special place, and it is.  It just has such a unique tradition to it.  I feel good about our upcoming season, coming off of two really good years, but like you say, you always want more and you're never satisfied as a coach unless you win your last game, and there's not many programs that do that."

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