The Prairie View football team lives by the acronym W.I.N.
It stands for what’s important now.
The Panthers, the SWAC West champs, are all set for their Dec. 4 showdown against Jackson State in the SWAC Championship Game. But before PV heads to Jackson, Miss. next week, the Panthers have a regular-season date with Mississippi Valley on Saturday.
The game really doesn’t have much significance in the grand scheme of things, but as far coach Eric Dooley is concerned the Delta Devils are all that matter to the Panthers.
“It’s what’s important now. What is important now is Mississippi Valley,” said Dooley, whose team is coming off a 52-3 throttling at the hands of Texas A&M in an ill-timed non-conference game. “That’s a very important game for us as a program.
“You are talking about a Mississippi Valley team that understands how to win, a Mississippi Valley team that is playing exciting football right now. They have a very stingy defense, a very exciting defense and an offense that can score points, as well.”
While the Panthers will be celebrating Senior Day on The Hill on Saturday, Jackson State will be home preparing the SWAC Championship. The Tigers wrapped up their regular season with last weekend’s 24-10 win over Alcorn State, which awarded the Panthers the SWAC West title before their final regular season game.
Prairie View, meanwhile, comes into Saturday’s game on a two-game losing streak after road losses at Alcorn State and Texas A&M. The loss to the Aggies was physically hard on Prairie View, particularly quarterback Jawon Pass who was sacked four times and hit much more while completing just 1 of 3 passes for 2 yards.
Jackson State coach Deion Sanders expressed sorrow for what the Panthers have had to endure at that juncture of the season.
“I don’t know who did their schedule, but they just gone finished playing Texas A&M then they’ve got to drive they’ve got to drive all the way to Mississippi Valley then then they have to drive back and then they have to drive all the way back right here to Mississippi for us,” said Sanders, whose team comes into the SWAC Championship Game on an eight-game winning streak and having finished the regular season 10-1 and 8-0 SWAC. “I don’t know who did their schedule, but I’m thankful to whoever did it. Tell them God bless them because that is exhausting and there is no way that I would have scheduled my team against a Power 5 team at the conclusion of the season.
“You don’t do that to those kids mentally right now. I just watched the quarterback get hit so hard, I fell when I watched him on that backside blitz that they didn’t pick up for him.”
While Sanders is a bit off on the Prairie View travel schedule because the Panthers do actually host Mississippi Valley State at Blackshear Field on Saturday at 2 p.m., it’s still a tough ask of any team this late in the season. But Dooley, who has admitted he would not have scheduled Texas A&M this late in the season if it were up to him, is focused on moving forward and not lamenting the schedule.
“I’d like to say, last week our guys went out and competed,” Dooley said. “There is no question about it, we played a great football team but I thought our guys represented our conference in a good way. The score would not indicate, but just the magnitude of the way our team played and fought for 60 minutes …
“Now we have to prepare for a good Mississippi Valley team coached by coach (Vincent) Dancy. “I know those guys will be prepared and ready to play and our team will be ready for that challenge.”
Follow Terrance Harris on Twitter @terranceharris.