College football: Catawba welcomes Livingstone on Saturday night

Published 3:07 am Friday, September 8, 2023


By Mike London

SALISBURY — Catawba football is rarely perfect, but the Indians are perfect  in their series with Salisbury neighbor Livingstone.

Catawba is 15-0 all-time against the Blue Bears.

The old “Mayor’s Cup” series was revived in 2022 at LC’s Alumni Memorial Stadium, as the athletes representing the Indians and Blue Bears shared a field for the first time since 2013 and shared a blue field for the first time ever.

That game was tight for a while and was still 7-all in the middle of the second quarter, but Catawba eventually pulled away with a dominant third quarter and won 44-19. As it turned out, that was the only win Catawba mustered in 2022.

Opening week of the 2023 season didn’t provide many reasons for optimism for the Blue Bears. They lost 41-7 to Bluefield State, and it was as lopsided as it sounds. Livingstone ranks 11th in offense in this week’s stats in the 12-team CIAA and is ninth in defense.

Catawba’s 31-23 win against Elizabeth City State to open 2023 and to begin Tyler Haines’ head-coaching tenure came on the road and sparked considerable enthusiasm, although it probably didn’t give Lenoir-Rhyne and Wingate coaching staffs any sleepless nights.

Catawba made it closer than it should have been with fourth-quarter turnovers, and don’t forget that Elizabeth City is certainly not great. The Vikings got knocked around by Livingstone last season.

Still, you can’t fault the Catawba fan base for being excited about the passing of Preston Brown, the running of Lee Bracy and the three interceptions turned in by South Atlantic Conference Defensive Player of the Week Deno Wardlow.

The Massey Ratings favor Catawba in Saturday’s game by 25 points, with a 35-10 score projection.

Catawba may well score more than 35, as the Indians generally score 40-plus against the Blue Bears.

It’s being billed as a “Community Day” game, although it will be more of a “Community Night” with a 6 p.m. kickoff.

The Massey Ratings project Catawba to go 2-8 this season, although that projection can and hopefully will improve as the season moves along.

The same can be said for the Blue Bears. Livingstone currently projects for 1-9, according to the Massey Ratings, and it’s easy to see why. The schedule is brutal, with Virginia Union, Virginia State, Bowie State, Winston-Salem State and Fayetteville State following Catawba.

There just aren’t many beatable teams on that schedule. LC is favored to beat St. Augustine’s.