Lions, Panthers Rivarly Resumes This Saturday
COLUMBUS, GA (April 1, 2011) - With both teams sitting tied atop the SIFL's Southern Division, come this Saturday night the Albany Panthers (2-0) will host the defending champion Columbus Lions (2-0) to decide which club gets the early division lead.
This Saturday's contest marks the fourth installment of this young rivalry between the two with Albany holding a 2-1 overall edge while Columbus took the last meeting 38-20 in the regular season conclusion in route to their 2010 championship. Both clubs were so evenly matched last season that the combined point total in all three contests was a difference of one with the Panthers holding a 125-124 advantage.
In arguably the SIFL's toughest division, Saturday's game is the first of three 2011 showdowns and could serve as the difference between which club brings home the all-important division championship. Up until the last season's playoffs, the Panthers were undefeated at home and already have a home win under their belts when they exacted some revenge against the Louisiana Swashbucklers with a 30-27.
Last weekend, the Panthers got their first road victory and second win overall in a 58-45 win over the Carolina Speed and for the second consecutive week back-up quarterback Cecil Lester came off the bench to lead Albany to a win. Getting majority of the snaps last week, Lester is right on par with his 2010 SIFL MVP season completing 30 of 52 passes for 288 yards and eight touchdowns with just one interception.
Along with Lester, the Panthers boast one of the top passing attacks with a trio of wide receivers lead behind current SIFL receptions leader Antwontis Cutts (21). Albany will welcome back All-SIFL 1st teamer in wide receiver Clenton Rafe, in last season's three match-ups Rafe registered 19 receptions for 303 yards and five touchdowns.
Meanwhile, the Lions already own a slight edge over Albany with a division win under their column from their 67-20 road win over the Alabama Hammers back in Week 1. However, in their last contest the Columbus offense sputtered their way to a 44-30 win over the Richmond Raiders as the offense could only manage 183 yards of total offense. Much of the early credit for Columbus can be attributed to their number one scoring defense along with gaining a league-high 14 turnovers and ten sacks.
Upfront, it's been the stellar play of veteran's like 2010 SIFL Lineman of the Year Franklin Lloyd and current SIFL sacks leader Justen Rivers but newcomers Andre Campbell, Derrick Crawford, and Josh Beard have been creating some havoc of their own. Campbell is tied for second on the club with two sacks while Crawford and Beard have a sack and fumble recovery respectively.
"This time of the year the defense is always ahead of the offense and with the number of veterans we have it's been no surprise the way they have been playing so far," says Columbus Lions Head Coach Jason Gibson. "Our defensive line has been the best I have had since I have been here."
Come this weekend the Lions will welcome back 2010 SIFL Special Teams Player of the Year in kicker Trey Crum. Crum played for the first two weeks with the Mobile Bay Tarpons but was given his release and re-signed with the Columbus where he led the SIFL in points (143) and uno's (24) last season.
Fans can follow each and every play of this weekend's matchup by logging on to www.columbuslions.net and clicking on the listen live icon. Pre-game is slated to begin at 7:20 p.m. with the game kicking off at 7:30 p.m.
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Southern Indoor Football League Stories from April 1, 2011
- Stampede Look for Complete Team Effort against Richmond - Harrisburg Stampede
- SIFL Week 3 Game Capsules - SIFL
- Lions, Panthers Rivarly Resumes This Saturday - Columbus Lions
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