SE will be playing under the new Great American Conference banner as UCO moves to the MIAA.
SE Head Coach, Ray Richards, said the match-up could result in a “nail-biter.”
Richards said in the years past, the match-up has proved to be a close game. “Five out of six games have been close. Last year, the win came down to the extra point,” said Richards.
Both teams come into the rivalry game evenly matched, according to the coach. He also called UCO “talented and hungry ball team” that he expects will play hard and well.
Richards continued to say he hopes his team plays well and stays disciplined on the field. “If you make mistakes on the field, chances are you will lose,” said Richards.
Both teams have a potential to make the game a high-scoring match-up.
“UCO seems to have improved immensely over the last year. We have also,” said Richards. “UCO is a good ball team.”
SE holds the advantage of playing on their home field this year, but UCO holds the advantage of having played their first game of the season.
“They got their first game jitters out of the way. We got a couple extra days to prepare against UCO, but they’ve already got a game under their belt,” said Richards.
This will make the 72nd match-up between the rivals. This is the fourth-longest running rivalry behind East Central, Northeastern State, and Southwestern Oklahoma State.
UCO holds a 48-21-2 lead in the series, but SE has won eight of the last nine meets, which includes a 56-55 come-from-behind win overtime last year.
“I’m looking forward to seeing players emerge,” said Richards. He added he also looks forward to seeing his team come together and play as a team.
As for the game against UCO, “this will be a fun game to watch,” said Richards.
The Storm offense will be calling on Logan Turner for the signal calling duties, but Jamaal Evans will be lining up with him in the backfield.
Evans will have the benefit of a seasoned offensive line that returns three of its five starters, including a pair of all-conference selections and preseason All-American Ryan Sullivan.
Defensively, the Storm will be looking once again to stop the backfield tandem of quarterback Ethan Sharp and running back Josh Birmingham.
Both had big games against SE a year ago, with Birmingham rushing for 205 yards and three scores, while Sharp tossed for 242 yards and four TD’s.
That defense will be experienced in the secondary where four of the back seven will have started for the Storm in the past, and all but one of them has seen action in an SE jersey.
That returning group is highlighted by the anticipated return of Johnny Seals who missed last season due to injury and will return to the field for his senior season in a new role, moving from rover to free safety.
The secondary is also bolstered by the return of preseason All-American Eric Walker at corner. Walker posted five interceptions a season ago and led the LSC for much of the season in that stat.
The Storm will see a lot of new faces on the defensive line, however, as two newcomers step into starting roles, joining a pair of returners who have never started.
Dominique Turner and Eric McCowan will anchor the line on the interior and will see their first action for the Storm on Saturday, while Barrett Shirey and Coby Rasgdale will fill the ends after seeing back-up duty previously.