Each year during homecoming week at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, excitement is in the air from all of the festivities and events that are planned.
The UAPB Golden Lions football team plays a big role in homecoming week by playing a game in front of what is typically the largest crowd of the year full of alumni and friends.
This season, the Golden Lions will host the Central State University Marauders in hopes of a big bounce back win after dropping their previous two games.
UAPB Head Coach Monte Coleman spoke recently about the upcoming game, and what it’ll take for the Golden Lions to get a win in front of their prideful homecoming crowd.
“We’re looking to bounce back and get us another victory,” Coleman said. “Central State is a very good football team, and they’re very well coached. They do a lot of things that Valley does as far as plays. Everybody is running the RPO’s (run-pass options) and they’re going to run the RPO’s. The thing that we can’t do is allow our football team to play down to their level. They have not won a football game. We have got to start fast. I think if we get up two or three touchdowns they very easily could stop playing in a sense. We have to put our foot on the back of their necks and don’t take it off.”
This will be the third time this season where the Golden Lions will face a winless team. Although their record doesn’t show it, the Marauders have a solid football team, and beating a division I school would mean the world to them, according to Coleman.
“They’re a good football team,” Coleman said. “They’re going to come in and this will be their super bowl. If they can beat a division I football team this will be a super bowl win for them. They are going to throw the football the most on offense. They blitz some on defense but they’re going to stay back and play zone and man and try to force us into mistakes.”
Central State University is a member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which is the same conference that Morehouse College plays in.I need everybody here, plus 16,000 more to be at the game rooting for us so it can make it hostile for them … maybe they will shut it down once we get a lead on them. UAPB head football coach Monte Coleman
The Golden Lions played Morehouse in their first game of the season, so that gives them an idea of the level of competition that they’re up against. Central State has also played Morehouse this season, and although they lost 35-33, they held the lead at halftime.
Last week against Miles College, Central State held a 14-10 advantage at halftime but ended up losing 41-20. Not finishing games has been a trend that they’ve set this year, but according to Coleman, from what he sees on film they play hard.
“I saw the Morehouse game, and they’re a good team,” Coleman said. “They have some good athletes. They have a couple of safeties and linebackers who really run to the football. Their running back is a bruiser. I talked to someone at Miles College who they played last week, and he said that this running back is the truth, and he can really run the football.”
The running back that Coleman spoke of is junior Terraris Saffold. Against Miles last week, Saffold carried the ball 23 times for 210 yards and one touchdown. The quarterback leading the Central State offense is junior Trent Mays. For the season, Mays has completed 97/183 passes for 1,045 yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions.
Mays has also contributed to their rushing attack, accounting for five rushing touchdowns. On defense, Central State has given up at least 30 points in three games, at least 40 points in a game, and at least 50 points in another.
Le’Earl Patterson is set to make his second start of the season at quarterback for the Golden Lions. KeShawn Williams has proven to be a home run threat on the ground, and he’s 100 percent healthy after being held out a couple weeks ago. As far as the entire team, they’re about as fired up as they’re going to get.
Coleman eluded to the fact that he doesn’t have to give rallying cry speeches to his guys because they know what they’re facing.
“I’m happy to say that I really don’t have to keep these guys up,” Coleman said. “They’re fired up, they can read the paper, they see situations, and they know all the schematics of it. I don’t have to come in with a pep talk they know where we are and what we have to do. They get ready week in and week out without huge pep talks. We talked about this week being homecoming, there’s a lot of activities going on. We have to make sure we’re taking care of our business, because if it doesn’t go our way Saturday you really don’t want to do anything. We want to make sure that everybody has a great homecoming and it starts with us.”
Coleman believes if the Golden Lions’ faithful can come support their team and make a ruckus, it’ll play a part in wearing Central State down.
“I need everybody here, plus 16,000 more to be at the game rooting for us so it can make it hostile for them … maybe they will shut it down once we get a lead on them.”