It's just a game, but it's one we want to win

Wednesday, September 12, 2001

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of Tuesday's terrorist attacks on our great country.

I was just sitting down Tuesday morning to write this column about seeking a record crowd for Saturday night's game with Southwest Missouri State and how we need fan support and about how our team is really starting to come together. Then the news reports about the plane crashes into the World Trade Center Towers started to come in.

That all makes football and thoughts of exciting games very trivial. It makes you understand that life is precious. We live in a great country and we feel safe, but you just never know what can happen. We are reminded that football is just a game.

It is hard to concentrate on football, but I know that after last Saturday night's exciting 24-5 win over Southern Illinois our kids have taken great pride in what they are doing. They are proud to be part of this University and they are excited about representing the University, community and area in a way that will make everyone proud.

I want to compliment the 9,822 fans who were at Houck Stadium for the game against Southern Illinois. Your enthusiasm carried over to the team. We all fed off your energy and that was a key in our victory. Even though we got off to a slow start in the first half, you stayed with us and helped push us through until we could get rolling in the second half.

We have another regional rival Saturday night at Houck when we go against Southwest Missouri in the 69th renewal of the rivalry.

Southwest Missouri has a very good football team that played well in a 24-10 loss at Kansas and in a 28-6 win over Midwestern State. Southwest Missouri is overall a better football team than Southern Illinois and Eastern Michigan, so we definitely have our work cut out for us. But we welcome the challenge.

It will be a game that pits brother against brother with senior linebacker P.J. Jones playing for Southwest Missouri while his younger brother, Adam, is a freshman starting defensive end for the Indians.

The Jones brothers both played at North County High School and I know that several bus loads of fans are coming down from that area for the game. Jeromy McDowell also played at North County and so they are really excited. Jeromy broke the school passing record in only his second collegiate game when he threw for 391 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Southern Illinois.

Everything is starting to come together, but we still have a lot of work to do. We need to continue to improve each week. If we are able to do that, then I believe we will have a good football team. The school record for attendance is 11,015 for the Family Weekend game against Eastern Kentucky on Oct. 2, 1999. We want to break that record Saturday night.

In these troubled times as we come together as a nation, a community and a University, we hope we can all be at Houck Stadium Saturday night.

The game with Southern Illinois was very exciting, but I think Saturday night's game will be even better. I'll see you there.

Tim Billings is the head football coach at Southeast Missouri State University

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