Greetings, Lion fans. This week’s preview is going to look a little different than normal. Here’s why:
As Brian reported earlier, the Ft. Lauderdale team has been hit hard by the COVID virus, and has been forced to cancel three of their first five games, including games against #1 West Florida, and UT-Permian Basin. As of this writing, the game is still scheduled to be played, but as we have seen in the recent past, things can change at a moment’s notice. Before we dive into this week’s anticipated match up. let’s take a look back at last week
WELCOME BACK JAIAVE MAGALEI!-Wow, just wow. This was the quarterback wunderkind that we all expected to see. In a radical departure from the past three weeks, Magalei was poised, in firm control of the offense, brimming with confidence. Magalei took advantage of what he was given by the Javelina defense, making quick reads, getting the ball out on time and in rhythm. Provided with great protection by the offensive line, Magalei rested easily in the pocket and was able to spot the open receiver. After his struggles to start the season, Magalei flourished. To borrow a baseball analogy, it was like a starting pitcher who has lost control of his best pitch, going into the bullpen for some extra work, and coming out and throwing a two hit shutout. Well done.
THIRD DOWN SUCCESS-A complete turnaround on both sides of the ball. The Lions were 6 of 9 on 3rd down conversions (66%), while allowing Kingsville only 4 of 11 (36.3%). Those are the kinds of numbers that allow the Blue Gang to maintain an outstanding effort for a full 60 minutes, and the offense to dominate time of possession, and forcing the opponent to take chances they wouldn’t ordinarily.
STRIKE HARD, STRIKE FAST, NO MERCY-Antonio Lealiiee’s 73 yard touchdown burst up the middle on the second offensive play of the game set the tone, and the Lions never backed off. Defensively the Lions bent in between the 20’s , but once the Javelinas got close, the red zone turned into the Bermuda Triangle, and except for one instance in the third quarter. forced the Kingsville offense to disappear.
MAX EFFORT, MAX RESULTS- Despite having a big lead, and being in full control of the game, the Lions never stopped working. Two Kingsville field goal attempts were blocked, and after giving up a touchdown in the third quarter, the Blue Gang shut the door, and the offense sealed the win with a touchdown midway through the fourth.
BLUE SKIES-For a team that isn’t accustomed struggling for the stretch the Lions have to start the season, this game had to feel terrific. The long bus ride back from the Rio Grande Valley definitely felt shorter and happier. This was truly a full team and staff effort to right the ship.
Now, on to Ft. Lauderdale.
WHO ARE THESE GUYS?- Ft. Lauderdale is a member of the National Christian Colleges Athletic Association, and from what Brian and I have been able to gather, the conference is roughly akin to eh NAIA. Of the two games the Eagles have played, they lost 68-3 to Presbyterian College (Division I-FCS). Note to Lions fans: Presbyterian is coached by Kevin Kelley, whose claim to fame is that he doesn’t belive in punting the football. Presbyterian has had two punts all season. They also have lost 63-0 to Mississippi College (Division 2, Gulf South Conference). If that sound familiar, it should. The Gulf South is also home to West Florida. Have the Eagles struggled? Certainly. It surely means, though, provided the game goes on as scheduled, that they will come to Commerce undaunted, and looking for the massive upset. They’ve lost to two solid programs, and at this point, the Lions can overlook no one.
JUST WIN, BABY-To borrow a phrase from the late owner of the Raiders of the NFL, Al Davis, just win. Win out, and the playoff possibilities and positioning will take care of itself. If the Lions take care of the business in front of them, they will finish with an 8-2 record, with losses to the , according to the current rankings, the numbers 1 and 7 Division 2 teams in the country. That should be more than enough to secure a playoff seeding. Remember, in 2017, the Lions went in as a #5 seed. And we all know how that run turned out.
RISING SUN-Think of this, Lion fans. The Lions fortunes appear to be rising at the right time. They’re approaching a softer part of their schedule, and the buzz is that the projected Offensive MVP of the Lone Star Conference, Miklo Smalls will return sometime around the end of October. right before the two most difficult games left on the schedule, West Texas A&M and Angelo State.
EYES ON THE PRIZE-With the huge announcement of the Commerce athletic program transitioning Division 1-FCS and the Southland Conference, now is not the time to lose focus, and be distracted by the glitz and glamour. Example: Tarleton State in 2019. For now, the objective is to win, and for the Lions to be in McKinney ISD Stadium the third week in December. If there’s one thing for certain surrounding the Lion football program, is that David Bailiff and his staff know how to prepare a team and keep them focused on the task at hand. For now, that is the Lone Star Conference co-championship and the Division 2 playoffs. Just get to the playoffs, and let the chips fall where they may.
SPEAKING OF-With the events of today, a big thank you goes out to everyone involved , and everyone in the Athletics Department. It is through your continued efforts in striving for the “Best In Class” experience both on and off the field that made today possible. And a joy for us there at The Wire to cover it.
See You At The Hawk.