The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Golden Lions (1-7, 0-4) will host the Alabama A&M Bulldogs (4-4, 3-2) on Saturday for Homecoming.
And like UAPB, the Bulldogs are led by a coach in his first year, Conner Maynor.
UAPB Head Coach Cedric Thomas said he has noticed what Maynor has done at Alabama A&M, and he feels they are in similar boats.
UAPB Offensive Coordinator Jermaine Gales, formally of North Carolina Central, is familiar with Maynor as they coached against each other in the Division II sector for a number of years.
“Coach Manor has done a great job,” Thomas said. “He just got in there, and he has some MEAC ties. He understands the culture and has won a bunch of championships. The good thing is him and Coach Gales had some battles in the Division II ranks so they know each other pretty well. It’ll give us a general idea of what he’s thinking. It’s not like we’re going against a total stranger.”
The Bulldogs enter the contest with a winning Southwestern Athletic Conference record, and last week they took down their in-state rival Alabama State by a final of 27-10.
“He’s in a similar situation that I was in taking over a program,” Thomas said. “They’re coming off of a big win in the classic, they came back late to beat Jackson and had a slip up against Alcorn, so it’s kind of been back and forward. He’s done a great job with a lot of those kids, and I’m seeing some familiar faces.”
Bulldogs sophomore quarterback Aqeel Glass played as a freshman and has experience under his belt. Glass has completed 147/257 passes for 1,705 yards, 15 touchdowns and four interceptions.
“They have a big-time quarterback that can throw it around,” Thomas said. “They have wide-outs who are athletic that can go get it. We have to do a good job defensively in keeping it in front of us. We will have our hands full. It’s more about us now. We just have to make sure that we can go out for four quarters and don’t get caught up in the game being close.”
With three games remaining, including the Homecoming matchup, the Golden Lions still have a chance to pick up a few conference wins. Thomas and his coaching staff are trying to make sure that the players are locked in on Saturday and get a win on homecoming.
“The battle-cry now is 'win' and to make sure we can make this three-game run,” Thomas said.