When he was introduced as the next head football coach at Stephen F. Austin last December, Colby Carthel emphasized the importance of recruiting from the East Texas area.

“We made that pretty clear when we got this job that we’re going to recruit from inside out and start right here in East Texas,” Carthel said.

That included bringing in former Marshall Mavericks. Linebacker Brevin Randle graduated from Marshall in 2019 and went straight to SFA where he joined offensive lineman, Chett Munden, who graduated in 2015 from Marshall High School. Then, the team got word that they would be joined by defensive end Marje Smith, a 2018 graduate of Marshall High School.

“They’ve been awesome so far when I’ve been around them,” the coach said of the former Mavericks. “Chett transferred in last year from North Texas and has really anchored down our offensive line, starting at left tackle. He brings great leadership and is a great football player. Marje, we picked up right here during fall camp. He transferred from Baylor and has done a really good job as a redshirt freshman. Brevin Randle, shoot, he’s a true freshman and he’s out there playing, starts at linebacker in the even package and is doing some really good things on special teams as well. All three of them have contributed a lot to us this fall early in our tenure here.”

“Marje was a freshman when I was a senior, so I knew him there,” Munden explained. “He had a class that my mom taught up there at the high school. I’ve known him for a little while but I didn’t really get to play with him much, or with Brevin, but I’m glad they’re here. We Marshall kids have to stay together. There aren’t many of us. I talk to them all the time. Every time I see them, I just say, ‘What’s up?’ and just mess with them. I ask how they’re doing and how their day is going.”

“We mainly talk about the football games going on in Marshall,” Smith offered. “Chett has always been a leader, even from high school. Back in high school, even though we were on two sides of the ball, we were both trying to be leaders in different ways even though he was an older guy. So now, it’s basically the same thing. He’s an older guy and I’m a newer guy coming in so I have to step up very early. Basically, I’m just learning his leadership skills and keep mine going that way.”

“I was excited last spring when I found out that Brevin was going to come,” Munden added. “One day at practice, I saw him and introduced myself. I told him, ‘You probably don’t have a clue who I am. I graduated from Marshall High School in 2015.’ I’ve always been a big Marshall kid and I’ve always wanted Marshall kids to be successful in sports. I was so excited to see him there. Then when I found out about Marje, they came up and asked me about him in practice. I was like, ‘Yeah, I know him. He’s a good kid. I know he works hard.’”

“I think it’s fun,” Randle said of playing with Smith. “We played one year together already so now we have a couple more to put together and grow our chemistry and things like that. Hopefully we can turn things around and set a new standard.”

That 2017 year when Smith and Randle played together, the Mavericks started off 0-4 before winning their next six straight games. Now, they’re hoping to help turn around the Lumberjacks, who currently own a 0-4 record.

“It brings back a lot of memories,” Smith said. “We’re trying to get the team back rolling, similar to how it was in high school. We were able to have successful on defense with us playing together, so hopefully with us playing together here, we’ll be able to do the same thing with the same goals.”

“I think this weekend, we’ve just got to bounce back from last week, continue to grow on offense and continue to execute all the plays that coach calls,” Munden said when asked what the key is to coming away with a win on the road against Lamar. “I feel like we’ve had a pretty good week of practice this week but other than that, if we just go out there and play hard like we did this past weekend and not shoot ourselves in the foot, I think we’ll be just fine.”

“The key is being focused, practice, being precise, being consistent,” Smith said.

“I think it’s finishing a whole game, playing all four quarters,” Randle stated. “We’re playing good, fighting in the first quarter, then in the second quarter, we get down. I think we need to come out stronger in the third quarter because we always try to do everything last minute. In the fourth quarter, we have to be locked in, read our keys and play four quarters. I feel like if we play four quarters and lock in, we’ll be a very successful football team.”

Getting a win today would be a step in helping the Lumberjacks accomplish their goals.

“I expect us to find a true identity and also keep building on what we’re trying to do,” Randle said. “I feel like the wins and losses will take care of themselves. I feel like once we turn this around, we can set a tradition on what this coaching staff wants.”

The three former Mavericks say they’ve taken lessons learned at Marshall and applied them to where they’re at now.

“I would say for sure the grind and to not quit because with me having moved into Marshall, I feel like it built my character and taught me to work hard,” Randle said when asked how his high school football career prepared him for college football.

“For me, I’d probably say to trust the process because we had times we were up and then we had times where we were down,” Smith added. “We overcame most of those obstacles that we went through.”

“I learned how to work hard, how to finish something you started,” Munden said. “Coach Lott (former Marshall offensive line coach C.J. Lottinger) was my coach and he’d always tell us if you start something, you’ve got to finish it and continue working hard no matter what the circumstances are. Just fight through everything.”

“We have a young team but they’re such a fun team to coach,” Carthel offered. “We’re getting better each week. We had the No. 9 team in the country on the ropes here last week against Nicholls.

“If we just go out there and play to the level that we’re capable of playing, and play a complete game and believe in ourselves, I think that gives us a great chance to pull off an upset and beat the Lamar Cardinals on their homecoming.

“We’re making the right steps and this 0-4 will be a distant memory in no time,” the coach continued. “We’ll be back on top of that mountain.”

Once they get back to the top, Munden, Smith and Randle will have had something to do with that.

“We’ve got to win and lock down these Pine Woods,” the coach said. “I think we did a great job of getting some players who really fit us and what we’re trying to do with those guys from Marshall. We’re going to always recruit from right here at home first.”

Tonight’s game between SFA and Lamar is slated for a 6 p.m. kickoff at Provost Umphrey Stadium in Beaumont.