For Delta State University senior football standouts Ixavier Triplett and Reed Falkner, Saturday’s season opening game with the Mississippi Valley State University Delta Devils in Itta Bena will mark the start of another chapter in their football careers.
It will be their first game under head football coach Todd Cooley, and it will be the start of the final season in their college football careers. Triplett and Falkner, along with the rest of the Statesmen, will have a chance to show everyone that last year’s dismal campaign of 3-7 is in the past.
This year is particularly a big one for Triplett, who played in only seven of the team’s 10 games last year. He recorded a career-low in tackles with 51 with 7.5 of them going for a loss of yardage. Triplett has racked up 233 tackles in his career at DSU.
Triplett said he is happy to be coming back for one more season with a chance for a better year.
“Being back on the team is a blessing,” Triplett, who was named preseason All-Gulf South Conference at linebacker, said. “God gave me a great gift to be back on this team. It really means a lot to me to be able to come back here. I just can’t wait to get the senior season kicked off.”
Falkner was also named Preseason All-GSC at tightend. Falkner caught six passes for 104 yards with two touchdowns last season. Falkner has been known for his blocking ability during his career.
Falkner said he is anxious to play on Saturday.
“I’m excited and can’t wait to get started,” Falkner said. “We had Saturday and watched college football being played. It just built up the nerves even more. We’re just ready to get out there, execute and play some football.”
For Falkner and Triplett, they’ve seen their share of leaders come through the program. The duo played under Ron Roberts in 2010 and 11 when the team won two GSC Titles and went to the NCAA Division II Playoffs in each of those years. The Statesmen played in the Division II National Title game in 2010, and they advanced to the semifinals of the playoffs in 2011. Last year under Jamey Chadwell, the Statesmen suffered their first losing season since 2002 and their worst season since 1997 (3-7).
“I feel like I’ve matured a lot,” Triplett said. “I’ve had three different coaches, and it was a mind blowing thing. It just took a toll on my mind. I really had to learn how to cope with other people and different people.
“After the first coach left, the second coach came in and it wasn’t all that good, and the third coach came with coach Cooley. They basically built, shaped and molded me into someone that I really didn’t think that I could be.”
Falkner said his maturity level has grown since he was a freshman.
“You learn so much,” Falkner said. “Once you’re a freshman, you’re like a sponge trying to take everything in. You grow in each year and get more experience in the field and more experience in adversity so you can take on a leader role.”
Falkner said playing under his third head coach in as many years has helped develop him as well.
“Each coach is kind of like a role model that you respect,” Falkner said. “Three different coaches in three different years will put adversity in your face. You have to chance and adapt. You have to move from different schemes and playbooks. You have to overcome it and do the best you can to perform.”
Triplett said the guys on this year’s team are unselfish. “The guys are willing to do something for the other one,” Triplett said. “It’s just simple things like going to fix your teammate a cup of water or give’em some all sport or a cold towel or something. We’re doing a good job of building chemistry and coming together as a family.”
Triplett said each practice this year has provided a different atmosphere than previous years.
“Practicing out there with the guys and making plays, I can feel that emotions are high,” Triplett said. “It’s fun. I’ve never had this much fun playing football with a group of guys. I feel like Delta State is knocking back at the door with this football program.”
DSU’s game with MVSU on Saturday in Itta Bena will begin at 1 p.m.