Thursday's meeting of the Orangeburg Touchdown Club had a bit of an unexpected change of plans at the last minute.
Wofford College head football coach Josh Conklin was scheduled to be the guest speaker, but did not get away from Spartanburg to visit Orangeburg for the second time this football season.
Conklin's Terriers were here on the last day of August to open the season against South Carolina State. The Bulldogs took a 28-13 win against the nationally ranked Wofford squad, and have since built a 3-2 record for the season.
With the possibility that Conklin will make it for next week's OTC meeting, SC State head coach Buddy Pough spent extra time talking at Thursday's meeting.
Pough also had Bulldogs' interim defensive coordinator Jonathan Saxon share a few words about the Orangeburg team that is 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, heading into Saturday's 2 p.m. home game against Florida A&M (4-1, 2-0).
Bulldog fans who come to Willie E. Jeffries Field on Saturday will get to see in person the first MEAC home game of the season, hours before ESPN2 plays its tape-delayed broadcast of the game nationwide at 10:30 p.m.
Before Pough and Saxon spoke on Thursday, Paul Miller, former Orangeburg mayor, presented Tri-County Fellowship of Christian Athletes area director Earl Humes with a donation check for $500 from the Orangeburg Touchdown Club. The donation was in memory and honor of OTC founding member Geb Runager.
"We are so grateful to the Touchdown Club here," Humes said. "One of Dr. Runager's primary concerns was to make sure that everyone understood God's love. Not just our love for God, but God's love for us.
"He wanted to bring people together, and that's what we do here in Orangeburg -- we bring people together, we show God's love and we impact lives for Christ."
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Pough, who has impacted many young men's lives through the game of football, spoke of how the young and talented team he has in his 18th season at the helm of the Bulldogs is influencing him.
"This football thing is a lot of fun and I think I'm having more fun than I've ever had, doing what I'm doing," Pough said. "We're having some of the most exciting practices and gatherings of different kinds with our guys that we've had in a long time."
Pough said that although the offense has picked up this season around redshirt junior quarterback Tyrece Nick, the Bulldogs are playing about as well on defense as they have in his 17-plus seasons with a headset on roaming the sideline at Oliver C. Dawson Stadium.
If Pough is to surpass Willie Jeffries as the all-time winningest coach in Bulldogs program history with a win on Saturday, the SC State defense will no doubt have a large part in that outcome.
"With the development of players, you also see the development of coaches in time," Pough said. "Coach Jonathan Saxon here took over our defensive coordinator role two years ago. His dad, Thomas Saxon, coached at O-W back in the day and I coached for Coach Saxon when he was the head coach at O-W.
"I'm excited as I can be about Jonathan's coaching and his career."
Saxon, who played for Pough at SC State from 2007-2011, shared what the defensive coaches are teaching about the intangibles around playing football.
"The biggest thing we are preaching to our players is consistency," Saxon said. "You can't start high and then not continue to play at that level.
"The hardest thing in life, on the field and off, is to be consistent. We played this Florida A&M team last year and got the win. But they run a spread offense and they like to throw it around. The quarterback is a great player and the skill guys they have are great, giving you issues all across the field. We have to stop them and get off the field, shortening the field for our offense. Our guys have been flying around in practice and they know it all starts with attitude and having the right attitude in practice that will translate to the game."
Also at Thursday's meeting, two ATI Physical Therapy Players of the Week were honored. Senior tailback Jesus Benjamin of Bethune-Bowman was recognized as Offensive Player of the Week for his 5-touchdown game, while sophomore linebacker Perrin Breland of Holly Hill Academy was recognized as Defensive Player of the Week for his 17-tackle game.
Guest speakers for the Thursday, Oct. 17 Orangeburg Touchdown Club meeting are scheduled to be members of the South Carolina State football coaching staff and possibly Wofford College head football coach Josh Conklin.