Greetings, Lion fans, and there is much to be excited about in Commerce, America. The recent announcement of a home and home series with defending Division II National Champion West Florida sent shock waves throughout the country and sent the message loud and clear that the Lions will not back down from a challenge. Kudos to AD Tim McMurray and his staff for pulling off the move of the year.
“To be The Man, ya gotta beat The Man” Pro Wrestler Ric Flair
The staff here at The Wire will have a breakdown on that match up in Pensacola very soon, but for now, let’s take a look at what could be one of the toughest Lone Star Conference games of the year for the Lions, the Angelo State Rams.
2019 Record: 8-3 (2nd in the LSC)
Biggest Win: vs. UTPB, 65-7
Biggest Loss: vs. Commerce, 17-3
Coach: Jeff Girsch, 8th Season (42-45)
Returning Starters: 9 Offense, 10 Defense
THE SKINNY- Only a hard fought 17-3 loss at home to the Lions kept Angelo State from the Division II playoffs in 2019. Jeff Girsch brings a Rams team to Commerce this November loaded with talent and experience. Only quarterback Payne Sullins and one offensive lineman left to graduation, and one defensive back is gone from a unit that led the Lone Star Conference in scoring defense. The Ram offense has big play talent at the wide receiver position, and a punishing running back. Make no mistake, this Rams team is locked and loaded for battle.
Points: 33.8 ppg
Rush: 146.5 ypg
Pass: 239.0 ypg
Total: 385.5 ypg
Rushing: RB Daven Manning (5’10” 230 lbs., Jr.) 114-469 yds. 6 TD Long 19
RB Kaleb King (5’6″ 181 lbs., RS-Soph.) 51-308 yds., 3 TD Long 33
Passing: Colt Garrett (6’1″ 198 lbs., Sr.) No statistics
Receiving: WR Keke Chism (6’4″ 210 lbs., Sr.) 60-878 yds. 6 TD Long 79
WR Austin Landry (5’11” 184 lbs., RS-Soph.) 24-328 yds. 4 TD Long 67
WR Alize Thomas (5’9″ 170 lbs., Sr.) 24-299 yds. 3 TD Long 47
THE SKINNY: Colt Garrett, despite not having thrown a pass in 2019, is not without loads of talent to work with in the Rams offense. Chism was first team All LSC in 2019, and is a big target. Red shirt sophomore Austin Landry and senior Alize Thomas are proven receivers that are a threat. Manning is big, powerful back. If the Rams can get some effective quarterback play, they will give conference foes everything they can handle.
Points: 14.8 ppg
Rush: 134.8 ppg
Passing: 199.9 ypg
Total: 334.7 ypg
LB Kyle Hunter (6’3″ 230 lbs., Sr.) 101 tackles (51 solo) 4.5 sacks
DB Leddy French II (5’11” 200 lbs., Sr.) 58 tackles (28 solo)
LB Andy Becker (6’0″ 219 lbs., Jr.) 54 tackles (24 solo)
DB Devin Washington (6’1″ 182 lbs., Sr.) 7 interceptions
THE SKINNY: Hunter, a second team all LSC selection along with defensive back Devin Washington, return to lead one of the most solid defensive units in the conference. Washington led the conference in 2019 with 7 picks, and Hunter had 4 1/2 sacks. French and Becker are stout defenders, and the Rams are looking to improve even more in 2020.
Punting: Jared Defelice (5’10” 184 lbs., Jr.) 65-38.6 yds. Long 67
Kicking: Jared Defelice , 2-2 FG, Long 30
Punt Return: Alize Thomas 1-23.0 yds
Kick Return: DB Deldric Shields (5’9″ 190 lbs., Jr.) 6-36.0 yds. Long 83
WR Austin Landry- 6-24.0 yds. Long 41
WR Alize Thomas- 5-23.2 yds. Long 43
THE SKINNY: Defelice takes over the kicking duties from the veteran Connor Flanagan. Defelice proved to be a solid punter in 2019, averaging almost 39 yards per punt. Shields is a big play kick returner, and Thomas shows signs of becoming a real star in the return game.
THE LOW DOWN: There is a long history between these two schools, One of tough, physical defensive battles that always seem to be close. The Lions are fortunate to get this one at the friendly confines of The Hawk. The Rams have one of the best defenses in the Lone Star Conference, and if they are able to develop consistent quarterback play, Coach David Bailiff and his staff will have their hands full. This game is the kind that makes champions. A game that the Lions are ready for.
It’s Time to Hunt.