SAGU announces 2014 football schedule
Lions open on the road before long homestand
Home debut vs. Texas Lutheran; Homecoming set for Oct. 18
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The momentum of last fall’s 6-4 football season endures, which helps explain the optimism that is propelling Southwestern Assemblies of God University towards an encore performance.
A member of the Central States Football League, the Lions are one of nearly 100 teams in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
Their upcoming 10-game schedule, half of them at home, reveals challenges and opportunities to contend for the post-season. The combined 2013 records of the opponents is 40-63, or roughly 40%.
The Purple Pride posted a 4-1 conference mark and capped spring camp with their largest number of players in the 15 years of the program. The team was second in offense and defense
Jesse Godding, the veteran Head Coach and Athletic Director, announced that ten of last season’s eleven foes comprise the new itinerary. Only Haskell University (Ks) is missing.
The two teams have played annually for years, but were unable to find an agreeable date for 2014. Haskell could return in 2015.
A new CSFL foe will be added that year as well. Lyon College, of Batesville, Arkansas (95 miles northeast of Little Rock), will play their first season in the sport in 2015.
The Lions will take on six NAIA teams, a trio of NCAA Division III teams and one from NCAA D II.
SAGU will begin the approaching campaign with a pair of road games.
They will be in Lindsborg, Kansas (461 miles from Waxahachie) on September 6 for a 6:00pm (CST) contest with Bethany College. It will be the fourth consecutive season opener against the Swedes, who have won the previous three.
After a bye week, the Lions play at Howard Payne University (Brownwood, Tx) on Sept. 20. It is the sixth year in a row of meeting the Yellow Jackets, who are 3-2 in the past five.
The next four weeks will find SAGU hunkered down with home dates at the 10,000 seat Lumpkins Stadium.
Texas Lutheran University comes to town on Sept. 27 for the Lions home debut. Kickoff is set for 6:00pm. The Bulldogs, 8-1 last year, are an NCAA DIII power.
A powerful electrical storm at the end of the first quarter forced the cancellation of the 2013 meeting in Seguin.
The ensuing three home Saturdays start with a 2:00pm kickoff.
Oklahoma Baptist University and Wayland Baptist University visit Waxahachie on October 4 and 11. The Lions defeated them both on the road last autumn, 21-10 and 26-21, respectively.
Oct. 18, is Homecoming Week. Austin College provides the opposition. The NCAA D3 Kangaroos have a 6-2 lead in the series.
Three successive out-of-town contests, all north of the Red River, will each bring a very strong test.
On Saturday, Oct. 25, they will encounter Oklahoma Panhandle State University. The Lions topped the NCAA D II Aggies in each of the past two years; 42-35 and 28-27 in overtime.
The next two conference rivals, Bacone College and Langston University, play host to SAGU on November 1 and 8.
The BC series is tied, 3-3, over the past six autumns, with SAGU defeating the No. 25 ranked Warriors, 38-34, in the season 2013 finale.
Langston won the CSFL crown last year and holds a 7-0 edge in the last decade. The LU Lions finished at No. 22 a year ago but not receive an invite to the NAIA's 16-team playoff.
SEASON FINALE AT HOME
The season concludes when Texas College travels to Lumpkins Stadium on Nov. 15. SAGU has claimed four wins in their past five encounters with the Steers.
A detailed preview of the team will be posted later in the summer once the list of returnes is official and the recruiting season is complete.
Much of the off-season focus will be in two areas; quarterback and the defensive line.
Reid Golson, the Lions record-setting QB, graduated. The efficient triggerman of the team's spread-option attack will be missed. He threw 15 touchdowns and only six interceptions while also running for 730 yards. His heir likely won't be revealed until late in the August training camp.
The offensive line, with many returnees, should be improved, and there are many incumbents expected in the skill positions.
A healthy Jeremy McDonald (33 catches) and Dylan Moore (27 grabs) are just two wide receivers surely to standout, while Venique Benton (19 receptions) and tight end Caleb Shelly (18) will draw plenty of coverage.
The smooth McDonald, who snared 40 balls as a sophomore, averaged 26 yards per catch last year.
Moore is a very tough competitor with great hands. His 26-yard TD with a second remaining was the difference in a 38-34 comeback over Bacone.
Runningbacks Troy Griffin (537 yds, 9 TDs) and James Hopkins (346, 3) are expected back. Both are a mix of power and speed.
Griffin displayed both in a 49-yard touchdown blast. He latched onto a screen pass and bolted upfield, then to the sideline and finally to paydirt.
SAGU led the CSFL in rushing, churning 188 yards on the ground per outing.
The defensive line graduated a pair of stalwarts in Rodney Johnson and Ike Caston. While currently a bit thin in numbers, expect them to be rebuilt. Senior Zach Jackson will be a key player along the frontline.
Jeremiah Maat, a heat-seeking missile at middle linebacker, will anchor the unit, and he's got company in Jeff Howeth. He could play a major role, either at outside linebacker or at safety.
The secondary has Shakeem Taylor (7 INT in two seasons) at one corner and a healthy Deonte Morrison roaming the secondary. The ballhawks are not alone back there.
All-American kicker James Gish has graduated. His replacement will have big shoes to fill. The punting game should be solid. Chadd Dearen and Stephen Stewart figure into the plans. They shared duties a year ago, with Dearen averaging 42 yards on 21 kicks and Stewart at 36 on 22 boots.
Broadcast and Social Media Coverage
All home games are broadcast in HD on the SAGU Sports Network. The video production is the best in the NAIA, and includes weekly interviews and a coach’s show.
Fans receive primary team news on the SAGU website at www.sagu.edu/athletics.
Video highlights and promotion can be accessed on the Facebook fan page, SAGU Sports Network. Be sure to click 'Like' to receive regular updates and promotion of games.
The SSN also directs the Lions Twitter account, whose handle is @SAGUSportsNet. Headline news and scoring updates are transmitted there.
Click on the underlined score to view individual game statistics.
Click on underlined player names to view game-by-game performances.