Johnson, staff continue to lay positive foundation

The Missouri Southern football team finally got their season underway last Thursday night in the opener against Emporia State. The Lions would fall to Emporia for the second straight season opener, 38-20.

The score and losing is the least of this program’s worries right now. After a wild offseason, to say the least, head coach Denver Johnson and his staff were anxious to get the ball rolling. Under coach Johnson during his first season, it seems the opponents don’t matter. He and his staff want to lay a foundation and establish an identity going ahead in this program. The bigger picture is not the next nine games. The bigger picture is providing a healthy program that this University and program can be proud of.

“All I really care about is that our football team advances and grows moving forward,” said Johnson in Wednesday’s press conference.

The feeling is mutual, even among the players. Guys like third year wide receiver Jacqui Davis can easily feel the difference in the program with Coach Davis now at the helm.

“He’s a great person. He really knows what he’s talking about. He just wants to bring us together as a family and guide us in the right direction,” said Davis. “I feel like this coaching staff is really involved with the players, they really care about us. I feel like they [former head coach Daryl Daye and his coaching staff] weren’t involved. They were focused on certain players.”

The ball has just begun to roll for this program. It’s a slow process that Lions fans be witnessing, but a program down the line that this fan base should be proud of. Wins may come at a premium but Coach Johnson vows that “the wins will come. I’m certainly not conceding any ballgame. We’re fully intending to win every ball game.”

There were some bright spots in last Thursday night’s season opener. On defense, junior cornerback Ricky Green had 2 interceptions. Linebacker Kyjuan Tate racked up 17 tackles with two tackles for a loss and a half sack. As a team, the Lions got four sacks on a good offensive team in Emporia.

Going ahead, quarterback TJ Fleeton will be the starting quarterback for the Lions. Fleeton entered last Thursday’s game in the second half, completing eight passes for 94 yards and a interception.

Under Coach Johnson the Lions will compete every Saturday. They will continue chopping wood and stacking logs on their road to getting better.

The Lions suit up again next Saturday against Nebraska-Kearney in the Hall of Fame Game at Fred G. Hughes stadium. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.