Columbus Lions coach Jason Gibson isn’t worried about tipping his hand this week. Maybe it’s because he has something tucked away for the postseason.
Or maybe it’s just because he doesn’t want to take any momentum away from one of the league’s best teams when it closes the regular season at the Fayetteville Guard tonight, just a little more than a week away from a first-round rematch in Columbus.
One thing is definite: Gibson is not letting his team come out with a hold-your-ground mentality tonight.
“No, we’re not going to play that game,” Gibson said. “An 11-3 record is better than 10-4, that’s all we’re thinking about at this point. There’s no point in holding anything back now.”
Win or lose, the Lions (10-3) have hardly allowed their slip-ups back into their heads, and Gibson said they’re unlikely to let this weekend’s outcome change much before their July 6 playoff game against the Guard.
The Lions’ only South Division losses — one at Florence (6-7) and one at Fayetteville (8-5) — were avenged. Columbus went on to defeat Florence two times and has since evened the series against Fayetteville.
Being familiar with the Guard and their current lineup is a plus, Gibson said, and an opportunity he will take even if he’s not the only one benefiting.
“Sure, it’s an advantage for both teams,” he said. “You can prepare to play the game against a team you know because you just played them. You have a lot of film, and the teams can really prepare for each other. It actually makes it more fun that way.”
Regardless of the outcome, it’s unlikely the Lions will bring an identical attack both weeks, according to quarterback Todd Spitzer, but consistency is crucial.
The Lions have scored an average 52 points per game and held opponents to fewer than 35, and trail only the Wyoming Cavalry in both categories.
“We just have to play Columbus Lions football like we’ve been doing all season,” Spitzer said. “The biggest thing for us will be just to do what we’ve already been doing — scoring points and stopping other teams.”
The Lions, who already clinched first place in the division and home-field advantage against the Guard, could secure the right to host through the championship round with a victory tonight.
While Columbus has performed its best at home this season — it’s a perfect 7-0 and has outscored opponents 439-164 at the Civic Center — the team isn’t looking at the opportunity as a potential breaking point for the season just yet.
“No pressure,” Lions defensive lineman Mike Berry said. “We’re just going to go on the road and play football. They’re the ones who still have to come here next week.”
ContactChris White at 706-571-8571