Clinging to the “slimmest-of-slim” hopes of earning a playoff spot, Northeastern A&M's Golden Norsemen conclude the home portion of the regular season Saturday by hosting the Kilgore College Rangers at 3 p.m. in a homecoming contest at Robertson Field.
Homecoming activities have taken place all week on campus. Today was Blue and Gold Day along with the annual pep rally-cookout. Tonight, the queen candidates participate in the traditional queen pageant at the Fine Arts Center.
Following the homecoming parade down Miami's Main Street at 1 p.m. Saturday, a tailgate party will be held in the north endzone area of Robertson Field starting at 2 p.m.
Tickets for the meal are $6 per person and can be obtained at the northeast gate.
Pregame festivities will start at 2:30 p.m. Tickets for the game are $6 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens.
Robertson Field has not been friendly to the Golden Norse thus far this season.
Coach Rob Green's Golden Norse are 0-3 at home while standing 2-5 on the season.
Following a 58-12 loss at sixth-ranked Blinn, Texas, last weekend, the Norsemen are 2-3 in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference.
NEO is tied with Trinity Valley, Arkansas Baptist and Tyler Junior College for the fourth and final post-season playoff spot.
The Golden Norse conclude the regular season next Saturday with a 2 p.m. game at Tyler.
“We feel like we're in a position where we're playing two teams that we can beat,” Green said. “It's up to us to go out and take care of business.”
Coach J.J. Eckert's Kilgore Rangers are third in the conference with a 3-2 record and stand 4-3 on the season.
“Kilgore is a power football team,” Green said. “They like to line up and pound the ball at you and then mix in a play-action pass every once in a while.”
NEO's offense ranks fourth in the SWJCFC by averaging 340.6 yards per game.
“We've made a lot of mistakes in our last two games that proved to be our undoing against top 10 teams,” Green said. “You can't play as emotionless as we have and expect to win the game.
“So, we've got to generate some emotion and passion for this game,” Green said. “The fact that it's been homecoming week and we should have a good crowd should generate some excitement.”
Freshman tailback Cardell Clemens ranks second in the conference with 845 yards on 185 carries and eight touchdowns. He has also caught nine passes for 104 yards.
“Cardell needs to have a big game,” Green said. “He's become our go-to guy with an average of 26 carries a game.”
Freshman quarterback Trey Munden ranks second in the conference by completing 90 of 168 passes for 1,077 yards and five touchdowns with eight interceptions.
Veteran wide receiver Colton Chelf ranks third in the league with 25 receptions for 494 yards and two TDs.
“We have to hold on to the football and allow our running game to control the tempo of the game,” Green said. “If we can create long, time-consuming drives and come away with some points, then we'll have a good chance of winning.”
While NEO's offense has been improving week in and week out, the Golden Norse defense ranks last in the SWJCFC by allowing an average of 372.6 total yards per game.
“We match up with Kilgore pretty well,” Green said. “We want to put pressure on them to force third-and-long situations.
“We want them in must-throw scenarios because they are uncomfortable with that,” Green said. “We don't want to put our defense in situations where they have to defend a short field.”
Six of the top 10 tacklers in the conference are Golden Norse led by the entire NEO linebacking corps.
Veteran middle linebacker Robert Spann leads the conference with 47 unassisted tackles and 37 assists.
Weakside linebacker Johnny Row has made 38 solo tackles and 36 assists while strongside linebacker Randy Tonche' has 31 solo tackles and 35 assists.
“Our main emphasis will be to try and contain their running game,” Green said. “We're allowing more than 230 yards per game on the ground and that's unacceptable.”