Nov. 16, 2010
NACOGDOCHES, Texas -
The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjack football team (8-2/5-1 SLC) has a lot riding on Saturday's game against Northwestern State (5-5/4-2 SLC). The annual `Battle for Chief Caddo' is always an important game every year for the fans of the SFA and Northwestern State purple, but this year the stakes are a little higher.
The first objective of the day is protecting Chief Caddo. The largest traveling trophy of all the NCAA rivalry games, Chief Caddo stands seven-feet, six-inches tall and weighs more than 320 pounds and remains on the campus of the winning team. Chief Caddo was carved from a 2,000-pound black gum log following the 1961 game. While Chief Caddo has resided in Nacogdoches since last November, the fifth-ranked Lumberjacks will be looking to keep him here for consecutive years for the first time since the 1999 and 2000 seasons.
In addition to Chief Caddo, the Lumberjacks are fighting to make history and win at least a share of their second-straight Southland Conference title. If SFA gets past Northwestern State it would be the first time in program history that the 'Jacks won conference titles in back-to-back seasons.
The Demons come to Nacogdoches also looking for a share of the conference title, and the story line is something that Lumberjack fans can appreciate. A Northwestern State win, coupled with a McNeese State loss would place the Demons is a three-way tie for the conference title. It would mark a tremendous turnaround for the Demons who were 0-11 a season ago. The Lumberjacks posted a similar turnaround following the 2007 season. SFA went 0-11 that year, but rallied to win the conference title just two years later.
Saturday's game will also be important for SFA's senior class. The Lumberjacks' 12 seniors were key in the team's turnaround from a disappointing 0-11 season to a conference champion two years later. The Lumberjacks, who have been ranked among the nation's top 10 all season, have been focused on one goal since the end of the 2009 campaign.
"After the 0-11 season we were committed to turning this thing around before we left," said quarterback Jeremy Moses, at the SLC Media Days in July. "After winning the conference title last year, there has been only one thing on our minds, and that is to repeat. We want to go out as champions. We want to be the first class to bring back-to-back titles to Nacogdoches - anything less than that and we have failed."
SFA will be saying good-bye to 12 seniors Saturday. Those seniors include Andre Banks, Jerrell Barnett, Greg Carlson, Kenneth Charles, Jesse Funk, Broderick Gaffney, Dustin Kempf, Delano King, Jeremy Moses, Rainey Sternes, Sean Warren and Jabara Williams. During their four seasons at SFA, this group of seniors has taken the SFA program from the deepest valley and placed it among the FCS' best teams.
Saturday's game against the Demons is slated for a 2 p.m. kick at Homer Bryce Stadium. Chief Caddo, an SLC title, the conference's automatic berth in the FCS playoffs and bragging rights are on the line. All SFA students receive free admission to the game with their campus ID.