By Terrance Harris
Texas Southern coach Clarence McKinney likes to say his team is on a Homecoming Tour, of sorts.
And the last two weekends, quarterback Andrew Body and the Tigers have been something of Homecoming Crashers, having thwarted celebrations at Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Alcorn State. But now it’s their turn with upstart Division II Lincoln University (Calif.) coming into Durley Stadium on Saturday afternoon (2 p.m.) for the Tigers’ Homecoming.
McKinney is mindful of the possibility of a little payback for their deeds during the last two weeks.
“I hadn’t looked past our opponent this week,” said McKinney, whose team is coming in riding a two-game winning streak and sits in their place in the SWAC West with a 3-4 overall, 3-2 conference record. “Lincoln is who is up on the schedule and it’s Homecoming so it would be real embarrassing if we brought a team in here who has only had a team for a few years and we don’t take care of business.
“We are going to focus on taking care of business versus Lincoln and giving our fans, student body and alumni something to be happy about this weekend.”
While the 0-3 Oaklanders seem unlikely to give Texas Southern much trouble, that could be entirely different for the Prairie Panthers who are hosting Bethune-Cookman in their Homecoming Game on Saturday at Panther Stadium (2 p.m.).
Prairie View, despite being shorthanded by eight players last week as a result of SWAC suspensions for the Oct. 8 pre-game fight with Southern, is coming off an impressive 54-21 road win over Lamar. But the Wildcats (2-5, 2-2) are coming off an impressive win of their own, defeating Mississippi Valley State on the road, 45-35, last weekend.
The Panthers sit in second place in the West with a 4-3 overall record and 3-1 in the SWAC so first-year coach Bubba McDowell is mindful about his team staying on task as the Homecoming festivities return to The Hill for the first time in three years due to COVID.
“Stay focused because we’ve got a big event this weekend with Homecoming,” said McDowell, who could still be without two players on Saturday as a result of the SWAC suspensions. “It hadn’t been here in a while so we just have to make sure these young men stay focused until after this game.”
Interestingly, McKinney is taking a slightly different approach with his players this Homecoming, even though the Tigers are very much in contention for the SWAC West title with four games remaining.
“Our guys know when they cross the track and get on that grass that it’s time to take care of business,” Mckinney said. “We practice with music so we are accustomed to having music being played while we get our work done.
“But we are not going to shy away from allowing our guys to participate in some of the festivities of Homecoming so as long as we are taking care of our business in the meeting room and the classroom and on the practice field we are going to let them enjoy a little of Homecoming, as well.”
While Lincoln is a non-conference opponent, McKinney insists his team isn’t looking down the road with back-to-back big home games coming against Jackson State and Grambling State before ending the year against Alabama State in what will be a crucial slate of games.
“I know it’s cliche, but we take it one game at a time,” McKinney said. “Lincoln is the next opponent on our schedule and we are focused on what we are going to do this week versus Lincoln. Our guys have been on what they call the Homecoming Tour. This is an important game to us, our alumni, fans and our student body. We are just focused on winning this game this weekend.”