• 63°

Critical week for Blue Bears

SALISBURY — Daryl Williams is an unconventional head coach.
Head coaches stick with standard coachspeak in pregame press conferences. They stress the team is taking it one game at a time and all that. They say all games are equally important.
Not Williams. He threw the coachspeak rules out the window this week. He declared Saturday’s 1 p.m. home game with Bowie State to be critical. It’s the CIAA opener for the Blue Bears and a chance to send a message to the league.
“It’s a statement game for our program,” Williams said. “It’s the biggest game of the season, and we’re not going to hide behind saying it’s just another game. My message to the team has been simple — if you are who you say you are, it’s time to show it.”
Even with the Blue Bears (3-0) still unbeaten after tight road victories against Millersville (Pa.) and Paine and a resounding home win against Virginia-Lynchburg, there are doubters. Millersville, Paine and Virginia-Lynchburg are a combined 0-10.
But Bowie State is different from Livingstone’s first three opponents. Bowie State is a traditional CIAA school. Every Livingstone fan knows Bowie State is in Maryland. They know Bowie State wears black and gold. They know about the Bulldogs.
Bowie State and Livingstone have played often. Livingstone leads the all-time series 17-11, although it’s been ugly lately. Bowie State trounced Livingstone 41-14 when the schools last met in 2011. In 2010, Bowie State romped 55-6. In 2009, Bowie State embarrassed the Blue Bears 51-0.
Livingstone’s most recent victory in the series was a 15-10 nailbiter in 2008.
Bowie State comes to Salisbury 0-3, dropping two tight games and losing big to Morgan State, a Football Championship Subdivision program.
Statistically, Livingstone is the better team offensively and defensively, but Bowie State’s Trevon Bennett threw for 349 yards last week, so the Blue Bears’ pass defense will be tested.
“Bowie State is bigger and faster than the teams we’ve played so far,” Williams said. “They’ve got big backs. They’re physical. Definitely the best team we’ve played.”
There are 12 football schools in the CIAA. Livingstone is the only one still unbeaten, and the Blue Bears carry a No. 2 ranking in the D-II school poll for HBCUs. Livingstone is in the top 50 in D-II in total offense and is 101st out of 167 schools in total defense.
That poll respect is worth mentioning because Livingstone was rated 11th in the league and last in the Southern Division in the preseason. Williams saw progress last week — better tackling and fewer penalties.
Though Williams wants the team to keep a chip-on-the-shoulder mentality.
“It felt good to walk off our home field with a win last week, but we’ve still got to show we can beat the conference teams,” Williams said. “We’ve been beaten down a lot of years in the conference.”
In other words, it’s time to see if the Blue Bears are who they say they are.
It’ll be a tough game for Livingstone, but it should be a tough game for Bowie State as well.
“Don’t underestimate Livingstone,” Williams said.
Follow Mike London on Twitter at @mikelondonpost3.

Comments

Comments closed.

Crime

Convicted sex offender charged with having child pornography

Crime

Rowan County woman faces drug crimes for gas station incident

Crime

Blotter: Thousands of dollars in lumber taken from Newsome Road house

Local

Locals react to Chauvin verdict, reflect on work still to do

Business

With remote expansion, outsource provider FCR looks to become an ‘exceptional part’ of Rowan community

Local

City expects $1.5 million surplus in current budget, ability to raise some wages for police, public works

Education

Enochville Elementary to host farewell event May 1

High School

High school softball: Carson beats West in a wild one

College

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson will speak at NC State graduation

High School

Wonders, Trojans facing off Monday on Cannon Ballers’ field

Local

City approves two apartment developments, more than 160 new units

Nation/World

Crowds react with joy, wariness to verdict in Floyd’s death

News

Bill seeks to end pistol purchase permits from NC sheriffs

Coronavirus

Rowan County sees 300th death attributed to COVID-19

News

Chauvin convicted on all counts in George Floyd’s death

Local

Top North Carolina House finance chair, Rowan representative stripped of position

Crime

One charged, another hospitalized in fight between cousins

Local

Bell Tower Green renamed to honor Stanbacks; Nancy Stanback receives key to city

Business

Commissioners green light additional houses at Cherry Treesort in China Grove

Education

A.L. Brown will hold in-person, outdoor graduation

Local

Granite Quarry awards FEMA contract for Granite Lake Park

Local

City to vote on apartment developments, final phases of Grants Creek Greenway project

High School

High school football: North receiver McArthur a rising star

Columnists

Carl Blankenship: Pollen and prejudice make their return