|« Viking Quarterback Connor Kavanaugh: The Slingin' General||Football Falls to Colgate, Still Winless at Home »|
Bearkats shift focus to Demons following difficult loss to SFA
Last Saturday’s loss in the Battle of the Piney Woods was a bitter pill for Sam Houston State to swallow.
A determined Bearkat squad went toe-to-toe with fourth-ranked Stephen F. Austin and were a few breaks away from pulling off an upset in a 31-28 setback in front of 24,000-plus fans at Reliant Stadium.
It was the kind of loss that can be deflating for a young team like Sam Houston State, but the Bearkats (2-1 in SLC, 4-3 overall) have bounced back with a solid week of practice heading into this weekend’s matchup with up-and-coming Northwestern State in Natchitoches, La.
“We got together on Monday to talk with the team and I told them that we have to bounce back,” Bearkats head coach Willie Fritz said. “We have to put that game behind us and I don’t want to hear any talk about last week.
“All I want to hear about is beating Northwestern State and how we are going to do it. We had a great practice on Tuesday, one of the best we have had all season. We were good on Wednesday and Thursday, and we need good mental preparation over the next couple of days leading up to the ballgame.”
Sam Houston has proven it can rebound from a disappointing loss. The Bearkats got run over 56-14 at Western Illinois to begin the season 0-2.
The following week during the home opener on Sept. 25, Sam Houston whipped Gardner-Webb 30-14, which jumped started a four-game winning streak.
“We didn’t start off real well at the beginning of the season, and we are learning a little more about our guys each week,” Fritz added. “The thing I keep telling them is that you only have 11 opportunities each season and we have played seven and have four left. You have to focus in and give it the best effort you can every ballgame.”
Another thing that should help the Bearkats recover is the fact that they have gone on the road and won a pair of games this season. Sam Houston rolled Lamar 38-10 in Beaumont and pulled away from Nicholls 26-7 in Thibodaux, La.
But this will be a stiffer challenge. Northwestern State has improved tremendously since an 0-11 campaign in 2009. The Demons (2-1, 3-4) will be celebrating homecoming fresh off a pair of road wins at Central Arkansas and Texas State the previous two weekends.
“We did a nice job a couple of weeks back against Nicholls,” Fritz said. “Playing on the road makes things tougher, but sometimes it is nice to get away because there are less distractions on the road.
“I think our preparation will be excellent. It’s also not that far away, so we might get a good number of Bearkat fans at the game. It is their homecoming, so I’m sure there will be a nice crowd. We look forward to going over there.”
Saturday’s kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Turpin Stadium.
All eyes on Nacogdoches — While four other SLC football teams will be concentrating on their games, there will be some scoreboard watching as first-place Stephen F. Austin (3-0 in SLC, 6-1 overall) hosts Texas State (0-3, 3-4) on Saturday afternoon.
The Lumberjacks currently have a one game lead on Sam Houston State, McNeese State and Northwestern State as the conference race heads down the home stretch.
The Cowboys have the luxury of setting back and watching what happens since they have a bye week, but the Bearkats and Demons go head-to-head on Saturday.
SFA needs to stumble at some point to open the door for anyone else to have a shot to at least grab a share of the SLC championship. The Bobcats have struggled this season, with two straight home losses to Nicholls and Northwestern State, but Texas State was the only team to knock off the Lumberjacks in SLC play last season.
By Cody Stark, The Huntsville Item