COLUMBUS, GA - Sunday’s home game for the Columbus Lions vs the Georgia Firebirds is a rivalry game that dates back several years, to the days of the Albany Panthers. It has recently intensified due to the Lions two decisive victories over the Firebirds last year by a combined score of 159-18. This season, several former Lions players will be making the trek from Albany back to the Jungle to face their former teammates, friends, and even brothers. Terrence Ebagua (Lions 2015), Larry Edwards (Lions 2015-2016), John Harris (Lions 2015-2016), Cecil Lester (former Lions backup QB, now Firebirds assistant coach) and Roshawn Marshall (Lion veteran of several years and brother of Lions defensive lineman, Joe Marshall) will be making the 86 mile journey from Albany to Columbus this weekend to battle for state bragging rights. The Firebirds are looking for their first win of the season.
Coach Jason Gibson and The Lions are back on track after an 85-18 dismantling of the Corpus Christi Rage, and are hoping to continue their winning ways this weekend. Darren Daniels and the Lion offense plan to clean up their performance and ensure they protect the ball and complete a higher percentage of passes, especially in red zone situations. Additionally, The Lions had to replace injured fullback Brandon Thomas, who sustained two major knee injuries last week vs the Rage. This week, that new fullback will be tested by defensive juggernaut, Larry Edwards, who is without question one of the most explosive and physical MAC LBs in Arena Football. Neutralizing Edwards and the Firebird defensive line will be a critical mission for the Lions offensive if they wish to be successful Sunday night. Look for intriguing matchups in the secondary as well, as Jarmon Fortson, Michael Reeve, and Tristan Purifoy will matchup against a Firebirds secondary led by former Lions DB and Arena vet, Roshawn Marshall.
Defensively, the Lions will need to remain focused and continue to improve from their defensive battering of the Rage. After forcing no turnovers in the opener vs Jacksonville, the defense turned it around against the Rage, creating 9 turnovers, which included 3 “pick-sixes”, a multitude of sacks, pressures and a safety. After adding Clemson standout and former Carver great defensive end Corey Crawford to the active roster, the Lions have potentially found the final ingredient that will elevate their play on defense to championship caliber. However, it won’t come without a large fight from the Firebirds offense who have the 2015 PIFL player of the year, Terrence Ebagua. Ebagua is a beast of a receiver at 6’7” and 230 lbs with blazing speed and athleticism. Additionally, speedster John Harris is a very dangerous deep threat who can accelerate and blow by most DBs in the NAL. The Lions secondary must be on alert as this Firebirds receiving corps is without question the most talented they will face all year.
Special teams will also play a key role, as kicker Lindsey Wolfe continues to improve on his accuracy and scoring, accounting for 18 points in last week’s win over the Rage. This included 4 kickoffs that split the narrow uprights, worth 2 points and called a deuce in the NAL. Wolfe’s performance earned him a league Special Teams Player of the Week nod from the league.
Kickoff is set for 6pm April 2nd in Columbus at the Civic Center.