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Bulldogs' quest is Southern champions

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By Robert Howey

ROCK HILL – The Citadel’s mission is a Southern Conference championship.That was the message as the annual Citadel Club’s tour made its recent stop in Rock Hill.The Rock Hill Area Citadel Club includes alumni in Lancaster, Chester and York counties.Bob Fello, the Bulldogs’ assistant head football coach, said the team is determined to make its mark in the competitive Southern Conference, which includes defending national champion Appalachian State.“We’re working to win a championship,” said Fello who addressed a group which included 59 area alumni and fans. “We’re going to do our part to put a champion on the field.”The 2007 season saw the Bulldogs make some headway, going 7-4, including a 4-3 mark and third-place finish in the SoCon. “All of our key games are on the road, but our players look forward to competing.”The Bulldogs, who posted seven wins in a season for the first time since 1992, face App State, Furman and Wofford away from Johnson-Hagood Stadium.The Citadel’s non-conference schedule also includes a road date with Clemson, a favorite to win the Atlantic Coast Conference title, on Sept. 6 as well as a season-ending trip to SEC and national power Florida.Fello noted the Bulldogs must replace three all-conference players on defense. The team is blessed with the return of 15 lettermen, including All-America junior wide receiver Andre Roberts.The Bulldogs also concluded the season with a total of 22 new school and individual records.The Citadel will also have to replace talented quarterback Duran Lawson.The school’s all-time leading passer, Lawson led an offense that was fourth in the nation in scoring with over 40 points per game and ninth in the nation in total offense, averaging over 440 yards per game until a knee injury ended his season. Former Northwestern High School quarterback Bart Blanchard is likely to get the call under center.Basketball assistant coach Doug Novak said he’s confident the Bulldogs, who went 6-24, 1-19, can improve on those hoops numbers.The team, which included 13 freshmen last season, returns SoCon Freshman of the Year Cameron Wells, who set a new school frosh mark for scoring with 432 points – 14.4 average.Austin Dahn joined Wells on the league’s all-freshmen team.“We’ve had two solid recruiting classes,” Novak said. “It’s all about development. Our basketball edge is to have shooters with a high IQ.”The Bulldogs led the SoCon in made three-pointers.“We think it’s getting ready to take off,” said Novak of the Bulldogs’ program. “Everybody knows what Davidson did and we went wire-to-wire with them for a half (41-33) before they pulled away for the win (87-70).”Caleb Davis, the interim director of the school’s Brigadier Foundation, also spoke.“There’s four things you can do to help your alma mater,” he said. “Give money and if you don’t have any to give, find somebody who does and ask them to do so.“Support The Citadel and when you do, be positive in your support,” Davis said.Fello called The Citadel a “unique place.”“It’s a great place,” he said. “Any time you put ‘The’ in front of it, it’s special.”