College Football: Livingstone-Catawba preview
By Ronnie Gallagher
The head football coaches of Catawba and Livingstone entertained the group assembled at the Rotary Club earlier this week.
Livingstone’s Lamonte Massie joked that Catawba’s Hester was big-time after watching a commercial starring Hester and his wife, Trish.
Massie hopes his team can entertain the throng expected at Shuford Stadium tonight. Livingstone will travel all of one mile as Salisbury’s two Division II colleges vie for the ninth annual Mayor’s Cup.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
Massie also knows the Blue Bears (0-2) have never won in the series and are huge underdogs again against the 2-0 Indians.
“Chip mentioned, ‘Oh, Coach Massie’s team is that close’ but I know he’s seeing our weaknesses,” Massie said. “We’ve got to work on those or they’re going to exploit them.”
This is the third straight CIAA opponent for the Indians.
“If they beat us, they’re undefeated in the CIAA,” Massie said with a smile. “We’re trying not to let them be CIAA champs.”
Hester insists his team is not taking the Blue Bears lightly.
“For us, the message is the same every single week,” Hester said. “We try to play with consistency. But after watching film, Livingstone has some really good athletes over there. They’re close to having that breakout. Our challenge is to try like crazy not to let it be against us.”
If a breakout is to come, Livingstone must avoid mistakes that have been the main reasons for losses to Virginia State and Savannah State.
Last week, in a 34-12 loss to Savannah State, the Blue Bears fumbled twice and dropped two sure touchdown passes.
“I’m still happy with our progress,” Massie said.
It is unknown whether Catawba’s starting quarterback Cam Sexton, the heralded transfer from North Carolina, will play tonight after suffering an ankle sprain on the third play of Catawba’s 21-19 win against Fayetteville State last week.
But don’t think Massie is happy about Sexton’s absence. Patrick Dennis, who will replace Sexton if necessary, was a nightmare for the Blue Bears last season in a 49-7 win, tossing five touchdown passes.
“He beat us last year,’ Massie said, “and their No. 3 (Daniel Griffith) guy is from the area and I’m sure he can’t wait to get on the field.”
Catawba’s stout defensive line will turn its attention to quarterback Steven Williams, the biggest bright spot for the Blue Bears. He has thrown for almost 400 yards in two games.
“I know their quarterback is playing good football right now,” Hester said. “They’ve been close to making some plays.”
Massie, in his third season, tries to stay positive.
“At some point, Livingstone is going to turn the corner,” he said. “We just hope it’s sooner rather than later.”
Livingstone has just two seniors so a lot of Blue Bears will be seeing their first action at Catawba.
“They see the importance, but they haven’t experienced it,” Massie said. “But they’ll see the crowd, the people on the sidelines sitting in lawn chairs and having a good time. It’s a festive environment but one that’s not negative.”
That’s off the field.
“Catawba is Catawba,” Massie said. “They’re going to do a lot of things well. They want to maintain the Cup and it’s our job to try our best to seek possession of it one of these days.”