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A carniverous defense likely to lead the Pride

Seniors Johnson, Evers play key leadership roles 

WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  When daybreaks next Monday, August 12, triple-digits could be in the offing at Southwestern Assemblies of God University.

Yes, North Texas heat is bearing down, eclipsing 100 degrees on many days. The Lions team, however, could also open their pre-season camp with close to one-hundred players in uniform.

Head Coach Jesse Godding enters season number twelve with a returning cast that has the real potential to turn heads in the Central States Football League. And that is not just because of their new logo affixed to freshly painted purple helmets.

The Lions core is chocked full of veterans.

According to Defensive Coordinator John Allen, SAGU could expect between 90-95 in camp, if not more. “But you never know,” he added, “until you see the whites of their eyes.”

He is optimistic, but tempers the energy with realism.

“I’ve spent 70% of my years on a football field – either in pads or behind the whistle,” he explained. “It’s a great life! God is good! I’ve been around long enough to not get too excited until camp is over.”

Coach Allen is not alone. Having back-to-back 4-6 seasons, others sense a winning campaign is imminent.

The defense appears to be in good shape as training camp approaches. Should this group unite and gel early, they could carry the offense.

Senior defensive tackle D.J. Johnson (Springfield, Mo / Parkview HS) will be counted on to anchor the front, along with Zach Jackson (Wray, Co / Wray HS) and Harry Ford (Thibodaux, La / Thibodaux HS). They both finished strongly last season.

Plus, the return of Ike Caston (Dallas, Tx / A+ Academy), back from a two-year layoff, adds promise to a group that needs to improve against the run this fall.

The linebacking crew could be the strength of the D – at least heading into camp. It will be led by a trio of hard-hitting sophomores who are strong and agile.

Dalton Snyder (Ennis, Tx / Ennis HS), Jeremiah Maat (Slidell, La / Slidell, La), and Momo Mansaray (Dallas, Tx / Conrad HS) are coming back, along with senior Kendal Evers (Danbury, Tx / Danbury HS).

Shakeem Taylor (Mesquite, Tx / Poteet HS) and Deonte Morrison (Garland, Tx / Lakeview Centennial HS) solidify the secondary. They are sophomores. Taylor swiped six passes last year to rank second nationally.

Frank Abgemaple (Euless, Tx / Trinity HS) also returns to the defensive backfield, where he has a history of making big plays.

The coaching staff hopes several incoming players are ready-to-go and able to step in and make an immediate impact.

The offense and special teams return skill position performers, from receivers to quarterback, including at place-kicker and punter.

SAGU’s two-a-day practice times vary from day to day, but generally start at 9:30am (CST). Their afternoon practice begins either at 2:30pm or 6:00pm.

Bethany College (Ks) comes to Waxahachie on September 7 for a noon opener. The Swedes rallied to edge the Lions, 13-12, a year ago.

They lead the series between the schools, 4-0.

The game will be broadcast in HD by SAGU Sports Live.

Fans are urged to visit the new Facebook fan page, SAGU Sports Network. 'Like' the new page and you will recieve video highlight clips, articles, photos and scoring updates. SSN has a goal of 700 'Likes' by Sept. 7.

Currently, the SAGU Sports Network fan page has a video clip that gives a preview of the Lions' new helmet.

Contact: Mark “Link” Warde, SAGU Sports Information Director, at or at 469-658-2847.

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