As players of the Columbus Lions football team boarded their bus Saturday morning for a trip to Jacksonville, Fla. where they will play the Jacksonville Sharks in the first ever National Arena League Championship Game, fans, many armed with noisemakers, cheered for them.
Many came with decorated trucks.
“This is great,” said head coach Jason Gibson.
The game is Monday at 7:30 p.m.
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Columbus has won the championship in different leagues the past two years.
Jacksonville has only lost one game this season. Columbus has lost three, two of which were to Jacksonville.
Because of that, Gibson feels the expectations are that Jacksonville will win again. “The pressure is on them,” Gibson said.
He said there will be no big changes for the game.
“We maintain the same preparation from day one to the championship, the same detail, the same drills. That is what got us here,” he said.
The team’s last game was on June 23 in Pennsylvania less than two weeks after going to Mexico. “We played four of our last five games on the road, the last three. We needed the rest.”
Gibson said the strength of Jacksonville, a team with a lot of veteran players, is its defense. Jacksonville beat Columbus 56-41 and 37-28. Columbus has scored 63, 77, 81, and 85 points in other games this season.
Columbus lost to Jacksonville in its opener. “People thought it was the end of the world,” Gibson said. “ You just have to win the last game. That is what really matters.”