Southeastern football ready to make conference debut

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 10, 2005

HAMMOND — After roughly two-and-a-half years of waiting, the time has finally arrived. Since restarting football for the 2003 season, the Southeastern Louisiana Lions have been playing as a Division I-AA Independent. But this season, finally, the Lions have a chance at a championship.

And that chance starts Saturday as the Lions host Texas State in it’s first-ever Southland Conference football contest.

The ingredients are all in place for a super Saturday showdown as the upstart Lions take on one of the preseason favorites in the Southland Conference as the 14th-ranked Texas State Bobcats visit Strawberry Stadium for a 6 p.m. tilt. Add near perfect weather with low humidity and predicted temperatures near 70 at game time, and fans are sure to be treated to a great family entertainment experience.

“We’re finally getting a taste of football weather and it should be just about perfect on Saturday,” replied first-year head coach Dennis Roland. “This is a big week for our program and we look forward to starting play in the SLC. We have a big test playing one of the preseason favorites right off the bat. Our team has been looking forward to this game for a long time.”

The Lions trail 8-0 in the all-time series against Texas State but were close to pulling the upset last season in a 31-28 double overtime loss in San Marcos. In order to finish the job and pull off the upset of the nationally ranked Bobcats, the Lions will have to get out of the gates and on the scoreboard early.

“We need to get out of the gates early,” remarked Roland. “And I’d like to see us be more assertive on offense. Our team thought they were going to beat Tulane and this team wants to be good in the league. We have to play with discipline and play hard for 60 minutes. Our test is going to be whether we’re able to maintain the high energy.”

and intensity level from week to week. We have to continue to stay up from week to week. That’s what really good teams do.”

Leading the Lions will be quarterback Trey Willie who started to blossom as the team’s starting QB last week against Tulane.

Willie was named the conference offensive player of the week after throwing for nearly 270 yards and three scores against I-A’s top ranked defensive unit.

“Trey continually gets better,” added Roland. “He’s become much more comfortable in the pocket and is doing a much better job of checking his reads. Trey’s a competitor who wants to get better each game and I believe his best days are yet to come.”

The Lions’ defense has also begun to form a new identity. Under new coordinator Mike Lucas, the squad’s attacking style of defense resembles Northwestern State’s Purple Swarm and deserves a proper nickname of its own.

Ranked in the top 20 nationally in yards allowed at 295.67 per game, the Lions have also blocked an amazing seven kicks this season compared to four combined over the last two years.

And that revamped Lions’ defense will have to bring its “A” game this week facing perhaps the top individual player, at least so far this season, in Texas State QB Barrick Nealy.

Nealy leads the conference in rushing (87.2 ypg), is third in passing (219.2 ypg) and trails only Willie (310.3 ypg) in total offense.

“He’s equally dangerous running and passing,” explained Roland. “He played an outstanding game at Texas A&M. Barrick is a great quarterback and we’re going to be challenged to stop him. There’s no doubt he’s the real deal.”

The game is set for 6 p.m. and will be available locally on the radio at Kajun 107.1 FM and on the internet at

Tickets are still available by contacting the Athletics Ticket office at 985-549-5466. The game is billed as “Take a Kid to the Game” day and fans can purchase up to two children’s tickets for only $5 each with the purchase of a regular price adult ticket.

Those fans holding unused tickets to the Jacksonville University game, can