Livingstone Football: Blue Bears ready to finally win at home
SALISBURY — Livingstone’s Daryl Williams is the CIAA Coach of the Week, but that doesn’t mean he’s watching game film 24 hours a day.
He always makes time to check out competitive cooking show “MasterChef.” He found a football-related message for his Blue Bears in a semifinal cookoff featuring desserts.
The female cook cruised in the cheesecake competition, but her male competitor dominated the key lime pie. It came down to the Boston cream. That’s where the male competitor committed the equivalent of jumping offsides on fourth-and-1.
“The guy outcooked the lady, but he made the mistake of using salt instead of sugar on the Boston cream, so he lost,” Williams said. “That’s a story I told my football team this week. It’s always about the details. You have to pay attention to even the smallest details.”
Livingstone, which plays its first home game of the season at 1 p.m. Saturday against Virginia University of Lynchburg, has handled the details well enough to start 2-0 for the first time since 1997.
Instead of raising ticket prices, the Blue Bears aren’t charging any admission on Saturday. It will cost $5 to park, but everyone can attend the game at Alumni Memorial Stadium free.
“It’s a community day,” Williams said.
The teams they’ve handled weren’t world beaters, but the Blue Bears have won twice on the road and won both with thrilling finishes. They rallied to beat Millersville (Pennsylvania) 46-44 in their opener. Last week, they held on to beat Paine 48-45.
While they’ve committed too many penalties and allowed too many points to be considered an efficient team, 2-0 is 2-0. After a 3-7 record in 2013, Williams will take 2-0. Starting this way is a giant step toward a winning season. A winning season for Livingstone is looking less and less like an impossible dream and more and more like a reachable goal. The last winning season was in 1998.
“We know we’ve still got a long way to go,” Williams said. “Our biggest enemy so far has been us.”
Division II schools have played only two weeks, but already the list of unbeatens in HBCUs is down to three. There’s Bethune-Cookman and Texas Southern in the Football Championship Subdivision. There’s Livingstone in D-II.
Livingstone is ranked third this week in the HBCU D-II poll behind Winston-Salem State and Tuskegee. If Livingstone wins Saturday it will likely move up to No. 2 because Winston-Salem State and Tuskegee play each other. Williams keeps an eye on the poll. It’ shows the work that he, the staff and the players have put in is being noticed by the outside world.
Livingstone will be in a strange role on Saturday — favorite. Virginia University at Lynchburg has scored seven points while losing its first three games, lopsided losses to Alcorn State, Jackson State and Gardner-Webb. It should be noted that all three of those schools are FCS schools.
Livingstone is trying to win a home game for the first time in almost two years. The last home victory came on Sept. 22, 2012, in a shootout against Lincoln.
“We owe it to our fans and our administration to start winning home games,” Williams said.
Livingstone has the weapons to start winning wherever it plays. Quarterback Drew Powell accounted for five TDs last week. He’s been CIAA Quarterback of the Week twice already. Jalen Hendricks has won the league’s receiving honor in back-to-back weeks.
Williams insists the Blue Bears have played a lot better on defense than the scores would indicate.
“I’m more concerned about our offense than our defense,” he said. “Our offense has been putting the defense in a bad position with turnovers. We’ve got to clean up the turnovers and penalties or we’ll get beat soon.”
The Blue Bears shouldn’t lose Saturday. If they take care of the details, they’ve got the ingredients to be 3-0.
Follow Mike London on Twitter at @mikelondonpost3.