By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
Missouri Southern stands 2-0 in the MIAA football standings for the first time in 10 years.
But it apparently hasn’t created much excitement around campus.
“You would think there would be a lot of excitement, but at the same time it’s really not,” senior defensive tackle Jonathan Rogers said. “People are still looking at us ... they say those two wins were easy teams. I feel each week as we get better and we played harder teams, they’ll see what the MOSO Lions are really about. I can’t wait to prove that to them.”
“You’re always going to have those who are going to ‘down’ you and say you haven’t proven anything to me yet,” senior running back Bryant Venson said. “But a win is a win, no matter how you get it.
“It’s not our job to prove them wrong. It’s our job to go out and do what we do, and that’s play ball for Missouri Southern. If you want to jump on the bandwagon, we’d love for you to. But we don’t pay much attention. We just go out and play ball like we’re supposed to.”
“We’re trying to be realists and understand that this program has had one winning season in (14) years (6-5 in 2007),” coach Daryl Daye said. “We’re here to improve that, and it’s one step at a time, one rock at a time, one day at a time. We’re two plays away from basically being 0-2.”
The Lions go for their third victory on Saturday afternoon against Lincoln in Jefferson City. The Blue Tigers have lost their first two games 49-28 to Lindenwood and 42-12 to Truman State, but the Lions are taking nothing for granted.
“We’re not overlooking anybody,” Daye said. “We have to do our jobs as coaches, get out there and put our hard hats on and go to work every day to get better. That’s what we’re focusing on right now.
“There are things we didn’t do well in the first two ball games ... mistakes, turnovers, penalties, and improve our tackling. We have a lot of work to do, and we’re far, far away from people talking about championships. I don’t need to hear any of that. All we need to hear is put your hard hat on, go to work, get better, focus on your job at hand, and never underestimate the enemy.”
The Lions’ two victories over two MIAA newcomers — 25-20 at Central Oklahoma and 27-21 at home over Northeastern State — followed similar scripts. In both games the Lion defense gave up a touchdown on their first trip on the field but did not allow another point the rest of the half. The Lions then opened a double-digit lead, only to see the opponent pull within a touchdown with just over two minutes left before the Lions ran out the clock.
“I think we’re playing sound ball and getting better each week,” Rogers said. “The second half I think we slack off just a little. That’s probably the reason why we’re giving up scores at the end. ... I don’t think it’s fatigue. I think it’s more of a mental thing.”
The Lions have had their share of fourth-quarter disappointments in recent seasons, but this year they have maintained the lead at the end.
“Last year when I was here, we never really finished in the fourth quarter,” Rogers said. “That’s something we’ve actually worked on in camp and during the season — finish, finish, finish. We’re doing a lot of two-minute drills, a lot of different type of situations. We’re trying to get better at always finishing.”