By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Voting for the MIAA all-conference football team is still a few days away, but Missouri Southern coach Daryl Daye has given a hint about his coach of the year ballot.
“Truman, I think I can easily say they are the best coached football team in our conference. I’ll make that statement,” Daye said. “They do things right. The kids are where they are supposed to be. They play hard every game, they don’t make a lot of mistakes.
“I remember from behind here the last time, you know you better bring a full lunch with you that day because you know they are going to fight all the way to the end. And I like to say our kids are the same way.”
The Lions’ two-game homestand to end the regular season begins with today’s 3 p.m. kickoff against Truman State in the John Ware Memorial Classic.
Ware was head coach at both schools, compiling a 54-43 record in nine years with the Bulldogs and 7-9 record in a season and a half with the Lions before suffering a fatal heart attack in 2005 on the week of the Truman State game.
Truman State has lost three straight games to nationally ranked teams — 35-24 to Washburn, 52-26 to Emporia State and 20-6 last week to Pittsburg State.
Garrett White has rushed for 503 yards and eight touchdowns, and Conrad Schottel has thrown for 1,816 yards, 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
Defensive back Richie Schumacher ranks second in the MIAA with 94 tackles (10.4 per game).
The Lions are coming off a 45-30 loss at Lindenwood.
Travis Hurd returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, but it was Lindenwood’s big plays that did in the Lions — including touchdown passes of 63, 65 and 73 yards, a 76-yard punt return TD and a blocked punt that was returned 15 yards for a score. Lindenwood had 422 yards total offense — 201 on the three TD passes.
“You have to stop them and give yourself a chance, and we did not do that,” Daye said. “They made big plays and they made them consistently throughout the day.
“We made critical mistakes with personal fouls and penalties, and it cost us the football game. I told our guys (after the game) you won the football game from the shoulders down, but from the neck up, you lost it. But that is something that can be corrected. We have to concentrate on it. If you are in position to take a shot at somebody and it is potentially late, then you need to pull off.”
The Lions approached school records with last week’s 16 penalties for 183 yards. The records are 19 flags against Central Missouri (1978) and Missouri Western (1991) and 191 yards against Missouri Western (in 1977 on 13 penalties).
Lions quarterback Kellen Cox ranks fourth in the MIAA in rushing at 83 yards per game. Defensive tackle Brandon Williams is third in tackles for loss at 1.4 per game.
There’s still motivation for the Lions, who need one victory to post their first winning season since 2007. With the winning record within reach, Wiliams has become a more vocal leader.
“I am coming out of my shell big-time vocally,” he said. “This is my last season and every senior on the team, this is the last year they will put the pads on. We all want to be winners going out, so this winning season would not only mean a lot of the seniors and the team but to the Joplin community.”