Who would have thought Mercer would have just one loss entering Saturday’s Pioneer Football League game against Jacksonville?
Heck, even head coach Bobby Lamb has said he wouldn’t have thought that going into the season. And it’s his job to do so.
Lamb, however, was realistic entering the season. He knew his team faced a tough task in its first season of play.
But here we are with three games left on the Bears’ schedule, and they are 8-1 overall and 4-1 in conference play. Mercer started the season with four wins, lost to powerhouse San Diego and responded to that loss with four more wins, the past two coming on the road.
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With three conference games left -- they finish at Marist and at home to Stetson after Saturday’s game -- the Bears are right in the hunt in the Pioneer League. Butler, San Diego and Marist are all tied for first place at 5-1 with Mercer just a half-game behind.
It’s a stunning development, for sure, but it’s one Mercer fans, and Macon sports fans in general, need to enjoy, especially Saturday.
Jacksonville was talked about before the season as one of the teams that could win the conference title, but the Dolphins are just 3-3 in the conference and 4-5 overall. The Dolphins should offer a tougher test than the Bears have faced the past two weeks for sure, but there’s no reason for Mercer to fear Jacksonville.
Especially at home.
Yes, Mercer has won its past two games away from home, but the Bears have built something special at Mercer University Stadium. That started with a close, but exciting, win over Reinhardt in the opener, and it was taken to another level by a win over Drake in the Bears’ Pioneer League opener, which really showed that Mercer could have something going this season.
The crowd at the opener was terrific, but the ones for the games since have slacked off, and the Bears need them to be great the final two regular-season home games.
“I hope we have a big crowd,” Lamb said of Saturday’s game. “We have been on the road for two weeks, and eight home games is tough in one year to keep filling the stadium week in and week out. This is certainly a big game, and we’ve got a lot of folks who are coming. I hope we pack this stadium because the kids deserve it, and this football program deserves it, and we deserve a shot to play in front of a big crowd again and a shot at Jacksonville.”
Mercer has planned a black-out for Saturday’s game, and the fans need to step up and match the Bears’ play on the field with their own participation in the stands. Georgia is playing at home at 12:30 p.m., so that doesn’t help, but that game is against Appalachian State, so that’s no real showcase game to keep people away from the Mercer campus.
This is a huge game Saturday for this Mercer season as the Bears try to continue the terrific run they have been on the past two months. Their play has been something to celebrate and enjoy.
It would be nice if the crowd support Saturday is, as well.
Contact Daniel Shirley at 744-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org