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Cheyney Hoping To Take Steps Forward In 2012

By Matt Leon

CHEYNEY, Pa. (CBS) -- It's been a struggle on the gridiron for quite some time for Division II Cheyney University. But as the 2012 season approaches, hopes are high that the Wolves may be ready to finally breakthrough.

"Things are going great in camp," Cheyney head coach Ken Lockard tells KYW Newsradio. "We have the most number of guys that we've had at camp since I've been here, this is my fifth camp (two as head coach, three as assistsant). It's great having the competition and having so many bodies out there to keep fresh legs on a regular basis. I think we're coming along very well."

The Wolves went just 1-10 in 2011, but they gave Millersville (10-7 loss) and East Stroudsburg (10-6 loss) all they could handle while making West Chester (23-7 loss) and LIU-Post (42-27) sweat.

Cheyney's brightest star is junior running back Marcus Jones who has rushed for more than 1,500 yards in his first two seasons.

"He's a staple in our backfield," Lockard says. "He's done a great job in just becoming a leader in everything in the backfield, on the offense and on the whole team.

"He's just an extremely hard runner and he's very tough to take down in the box. Just exciting to watch. Any given play, Marcus can pop through the line and just be gone. He's done a lot of work on his speed and gotten faster and his vision just keeps getting better and better, seeing the seems."

A running back needs the guys in front of him to open up holes, and Lockard says his offensive line is a bit of a work in progress.

"They were all underclassmen (last season), they're all underclassmen again. So that's always a concern when you're coming in with an offensive line that's all underclassmen. But it's great the fact, that they all have experience from last year. They all played in eleven games. And they have that time as a unit, working together with everything they do in that battle in the trenches that they have to go through every game and every practice."

Lockard likes what he sees on defense in camp.

"Our defense just keeps continuing to improve. They improved a great deal last year, and they've been doing a great job all camp long. Everybody's improving at a much higher rate this year than last year because of our numbers."

Listen To Podcast With Coach Ken Lockard:

The Wolves open the season on September 1st on the road, paying rival Lincoln University a visit in the annual "Battle of the Firsts."

"It's unbelievable being able to kickoff the season with a rivalry game," Lockard says. "This year, I think it's magnified because of the opening of their new stadium. So it's just making it that much more exciting. On top of the fact that we got our first win against them last season in the battle between the two schools. So there's a lot going into this game that's adding even more excitement than just the regular rivalry itself."

Cheyney won that match-up with Lincoln last year 21-19.

You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.

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