Following a week of homecoming activities, Northeastern A&M's Golden Norsemen entertain eighth-ranked Blinn College Saturday at 3 p.m. on Robertson Field.
After an alumni/family/friends brunch at 11 a.m. in the Bruce Carter Student Union Ballroom, a homecoming parade, featuring area marching bands, floats and 32 queen candidates, will proceed down Miami's Main Street starting at 1 p.m.
A tailgate party starts at 2 p.m. in the north end zone area. Tickets are $6 per person and can be purchased at the northeast game. The meal will consist of bratwurst and polish sausage, sauerkraut, sweet relish and onions, potato salad, baked beans, chips, cookies and a drink.
Also located in the north end zone will be a booth featuring members of the Lady Norse and Golden Norse basketball teams for a meet-and-greet session starting at 2:30 p.m.
Pre-game activities will start at 2:30 p.m. The crowning of the queen and her court will take place at halftime.
Game tickets purchased at the gate are $6 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens.
“There are a lot of coaches that think that homecoming week provides a lot of distractions, but I'm not one of them,” Golden Norse head coach Rob Green said. “But I think it's a week that has some positive additions to what our normal week would be like.
“It's always great to get back to Red Robertson Field and our great hometown fans,” Green said. “Anybody who knows anything about this league, knows that anytime you have to make a seven, eight or even 10-hour bus trip it's tough to have fans that follow you.
“It's always good to get back home with a friendly crowd. We got a taste of this last week at Navarro's homecoming. It actually helped them a lot.”
With a spot in the post-season Southwest Junior College Football Conference playoffs hanging in the balance, the Norsemen enter the game with a 1-2 record. The Golden Norse stand 4-2 on the season following a tough 34-12 loss to Navarro College last weekend in Corsicana, Texas.
Third-year head coach Brad Franchione has guided the reigning NJCAA National Champion Buccaneers to a 2-1 mark in the conference. Last weekend Blinn cruised to a 42-21 victory over Trinity Valley in Brenham, Texas to stand 5-1 on the season.
“Blinn is a very good football team with talent on both sides of the ball,” Green said. “They feature several experienced players at skill positions on offense.
“Because they have a good balance between the run and pass, you can't give them a short field to work from by making turnovers,” Green said. “You've got to make them earn every yard.
“Over the last three games we've been allowing the opposition to start drives on our end of the field. We can't let that happen because not only is Blinn an opportunistic football team, but so is Kilgore and Tyler. There isn't a facet of Blinn's game that isn't well polished with quality athletes.”
Anchoring the offensive backfield for the Golden Norse will be veteran Bo Bowling at quarterback with freshmen Shaun Baker-Hughes and Jeremiah Sampson sharing duties at tailback.
The Norse are ranked 10th in the nation in total offense with a 400.5 yards per game average.
Bowling is a triple threat at quarterback, running back or wide receiver. He ranks seventh in the nation with 768 yards on 127 carries and nine TDs. He has completed 30 of 57 passes for 417 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions.
Bowling has caught seven passes for 61 yards while returning five punts for 41 yards and ranks seventh nationally in total offense with a 197.3-yard average.
Baker-Hughes has rushed for 199 yards on 38 carries with four touchdowns while Sampson has gained 86 yards on 13 carries.
"This may sound like Football 101 for us, but offensively we've got to do a much better job of blocking," Green said. "We went from being a very good football team to not being very good primarily because we're not blocking.
"I'm not just talking about our offensive line, but our receivers and running backs aren't executing their blocks. After our dismal offensive outing at Navarro, our main focus has been on correcting some of the mistakes we made. They are correctable. First we want to correct the mistakes, then we'll rebuild egos."
Expected to bolster the Golden Norse offensive production is the return of sophomore wide receiver-kick returner Curtis Tucker. Last week, Tucker did not travel to Corsicana because of disciplinary reasons.
"Curtis adds a whole nother dimension to our offense," Green said. "Not only is he a threat on the outside, but he also has the speed to break a kickoff return."
Tucker ranks fifth in the nation with 31 receptions for 576 yards and three TDs. Tucker has also returned seven kickoffs for 189 yards.
"Blinn's defense likes to fly around from sideline to sideline," Green said. "Year in and year out, Blinn has the best defensive athletes in this league. They are very athletic and they like to hit people."
While the Buccaneers rank sixth in the nation on defense by allowing 182.4 total yards per game, Blinn leads the nation in total offense averaging 508.2 yards per game.
The Bucs' offense is led by redshirt freshman Terrance Cain at quarterback. Cain has passed for 1,097 yards and rushed for 137 yards to rank fifth in the nation in total offense with a 246.8 average. He has completed 83 of 123 passes with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions.
"Against Navarro we played a very solid first half defensively," Green said. "We held a pretty good football team to under 100 total yards.
"But, we had three or times in the second half where we gave up the big play," Green said. "We can't do that and expect to win. They'll use multiple formations and run the ball right at you. We've got to counter that with stunts and blitzes."
NEO sophomore middle linebacker Jayson Bates ranks fourth in the nation with 37 solo tackles and 43 assists.
Outside linebacker Logan Zabel, a former Miami Wardog, ranks 11th in the nation with 33 unassisted tackles and 36 assists. Zabel has recorded three quarterback sacks for minus-20 yards.
Freshman defensive tackle John White ranks 13th nationally with 35 solo tackles and 31 assists.
Averaging four quarterback sacks per game, the Golden Norse defense is led by sophomore defensive end Colton Johnson with eight sacks for minus-58 yards.