Are you ready for some football?


Kurt Montgomery/The Chart

Assistant coach defensive coordinator Wally Ake explains the plays to Southern football players during practice to prepare them for the home opener against Central Oklahoma on Sept. 5.

Ian Taylor, Sports Writer

Following a season that saw Head Coach Daryl Daye lead the Lions to a 6-5 winning record for the first time since 2007, Southern football looks to continue to build such a tradition as they begin the 2013 campaign.  It’s tradition that could be more difficult to continue after an offseason of changes to the heart of the coaching staff and roster alike.

Southern added a new defensive and co-offensive coordinators, as well as multiple transfer players from around the country.

With big shoes to fill in multiple positions after Southern sent one player to the NFL and set multiple school rushing records last season, the team feels they have elevated expectations.

Yet with new faces come new challenges and as the season gets underway Daye and the Lions feel confident that hard work this spring will pay off on the gridiron, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

“This guy Wally Ake is a guy who has a great reputation,” said Daye, “the thing I like about him is he cares about his kids.  He’s old school and I like old school.”

An old school attitude stemmed from years of experience in Ake’s case as he boasts time at universities like Maryland, Arkansas and Auburn during his career.  A résumé built through years of football that gave him credibility with the Southern players from the first moment he set foot on the field.

“Coach Ake loves us, and he goes after us like he would his own,” said junior defensive end Ryon Phillips. “He’s a football coach, so I think any man who is a great football coach is very easy to adapt to.”

An adaption that the Lions hope they have completed as the season gets underway with a rematch of last years opener against Central Oklahoma followed quickly by Southerns first road test against Northeastern State on Sept. 14. The Lions were able to beat both teams last season and if history repeats itself, it will help get Southern off to another fast start.

A team hungry to show that last year was a sign of things to come could use history as motivation, but it seems that motivation is not an issue that needs resolving.

“We know who we are now,” said Phillips. “We can win and we can do it because we are a team.  Let’s win, let’s win, let’s win.”

A statement of intent from a team that does not want to leave the outcome to the imagination, it would seem that the Lions are officially ready.

As of early August, the Lions were picked to finish ninth in the MIAA by the coaches poll behind Fort Hayes State and Emporia State. In the MIAA preseason media poll Missouri Southern was picked eigth, rising above Fort Hays State but still behind Emporia State.