It’s hard to believe and yet exciting that in just a little over 2 weeks, we will be starting our Division I Journey by kicking off against Lincoln U California at The Hawk on the Thursday night before Labor Day. It is exciting and even as I am down in the Hill Country relaxing on the Frio River and enjoying being out of dodge for a while. Either way, I’ve been on the river all day and I figured it was time to break down how difficult our schedule is, going from easiest to hardest, so let’s get to it.
11. September 2 VS. Lincoln University-This one will be over early. First off, this is a game where we will probably empty the benches and everyone plays. Expect to see 3 or more Quarterbacks and not because the of the reasons last year. The Lion fan base is really pumped to start the season and start our D1 journey, and it will start with a cruise to victory to open up our new era.
10. September 24 VS. North American-North American is a more advanced program than Lincoln is at this point and they also have nearly 100 football players in their program. For an NAIA program, that is pretty remarkable. There are also some other factors that will keep this game a little bit tougher than Lincoln. For starters, they don’t have to travel halfway across the country like Lincoln does. Expect to see some familiar faces and hear some familiar names that will be suiting up for North American. Also, the Lions could be either 3-0, 2-1, or 1-2 when they play this game. All of the results will provide motive to really play a good game at home.
9. October 22 VS. Houston Baptist-HBU will be looking to go up from their 0-11 season last year, and Vic Shealy is not to be underestimated as a Head Coach. However, with this being the Homecoming game along with our 50 year celebration of the 1972 team, this should be a pretty comfortable win.
8. November 5 VS. Northwestern State-Northwestern treks west to The Hawk where they will face a Lion squad that will be in Midseason form. What makes this game tougher than HBU is that Northwestern wins a few more games from time to time, however, NWLA has lost to to some powerful D2 programs, so keep that in consideration.
7. September 10 @ Tennessee Tech-In our first matchup since the 33-0 thrashing Old ET gave Tenn Tech 70 years ago this December, this will be a bit of a measuring stick game. Tech is probably the second worst Division I school we play this year, just behind Houston Baptist. This game is on the road, and I am sure Tech sees us as a newbie from Division II just waiting to be beaten. Perfect game to thrash them and let them know how football is played in Commerce, America, and also beat their first D1 opponent in the D1 era and have positive momentum heading into the tilt with Sam Houston.
6. November 19 VS. Tennessee State-The Tigers are an HBCU program on the rise. We get this game at home, but it will probably be our second toughest home game, but with it being the final game of the year with no FCS playoffs to look forward to, it will be something that will be either be a strong or mediocre performance since we are simply playing for polls at the time, and our fate in the conference will have been decided by that time. This one will be for pride.l
5. October 15 @ McNeese State-This is where things are getting more and more challenging by the week. The Lions head down to South Louisiana. Winnable as this game is, it will be very tough to go on the road and get a quality Southland Conference win. This will be the game to see how and where we are at during the halfway point in the season.
4. November 12 @ Nicholls-Another tough road trip against a top tier Southland Conference foe. Nicholls is going to be better than they were last year, and the trip is going to be tough, and the game is going to be a complete gut check. It will see how good we really are.
3. October 29 VS. Incarnate Word-GJ Kinne trades in his cleats and wrist playband for a headset and play calling sheet and brings a # 14 preseason ranking to boot. How good they will be when they visit The Lions in Commerce, that is the unknown but this is a program that has been used to winning conference championships. For Kinne, he will have family and friends from his three hometowns that are all within 2 hours of Commerce, Mesquite (45 Minutes), Canton (1 1/2 hours), and Gilmer (2 Hours) and you better bet that he is going to want to Coach a good game for his former teammates, family, and friends. We need the Hawk rocking for this game and it is the biggest home game on the schedule.
2. October 8 @ Southeastern Louisiana-In a faceoff of two sets of Lions, we will see which one will be the King of the Jungle in the SLC. Southeastern is fresh off a 10 win season and a second round appearance in the FCS playoffs. Toughest SLC game no doubt.
1. September 17 @ Sam Houston State-This is the first time we will play an FBS school in the history of the program. It will be tough, it will be challenging, and we can win this game. The only question is will we? Bear in mind, Sam Houston is now in the Group of 5 of FBS as a member of Conference USA. Which means, they will be writing us a check for this game. What better result than to beat a great program and then take the money and run? Even better, this game will be a true measuring stick of how we are as a program, and how much work needs to be done to be a force in Division I.