Matchup full of wins, injuries for Columbus
By CHRIS WHITE
In the short history between the two teams, the Columbus Lions never have lost to the Greenville Force.
Columbus trumped Greenville twice in the American Indoor Football Association last season, routed them two months ago in a preseason game and did it again in their first regular-season Southern Indoor Football League matchup two weeks ago.
But the Lions’ road trip to play at Greenville again tonight is anything but a bright spot on the schedule.
“It’s really not a good thing at all because every time we play them, they beat us up pretty bad,” Columbus coach Jason Gibson said. “We’ve been lucky enough to be on the winning side of the stick, but, every time we leave the game, we lose players.”
Tonight, the Lions will miss several starters due to injuries — each suffered two weeks ago against the Force — and with a mostly reloaded defensive line.
Starting defensive lineman Elbert Shumake is out with a knee ligament injury. Adding to the problem for Columbus were the departures of defensive linemen Mike Berry, who signed with the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League, and Cedric Lloyd, who signed with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.
That left the Columbus defensive line with only Franklin Lloyd and Tranaine Jehovah. The Lions have since signed Shawn Morgan, a lineman with NFL Europe and af2 experience, and Franklin Lloyd and Jehovah are Nos. 1 and 3 in the SIFL in sacks, respectively, but Gibson said he is still worried about how the new lineup will hold up tonight.
“I’ve been kind of struggling trying to figure out what to do,” Gibson said. “I didn’t make a lot of plans after the game against Greenville because I knew we’d only be missing Shumake for a couple weeks. But then Berry was gone, and Cedric goes to the CFL. All of a sudden, I’ve only got two defensive linemen left.”
The Lions are deeper in the secondary but lost Barry Tate this week when he was cut. Tate was playing second string for Columbus. Gibson said he dropped him from the roster to allow him to sign with the Reading Express, which offered him a starting spot.
Offensively, the Lions are still wounded, too. Quarterback Todd Spitzer is expected to get some playing time, Gibson said, but is still nursing a knee injury that has kept him out or limited for more than a month. And fullback Melvin Parris is out this week with broken ribs, an injury he sustained while playing Greenville.