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Columbus Lions face stingy defense today against Harrisburg Stampede

After spending the week preparing for the intricacies of the Harrisburg Stampede’s game plan, Lions coach Jason Gibson is only worried about one detail heading into tonight’s game in Harrisburg, Pa.

“I just want to see how our O-line holds up against their defense,” Gibson said. “That’s really the only matchup that matters in this game. If we give our quarterback time, he can make plays. We want to give him time and let athleticism take over.”

But keeping starter Bill Ashburn in the pocket and allowing receivers to exploit their speed may be more difficult for the Lions (3-1) than it has been through the first four games of the season. The Stampede (1-2) are allowing a league-low 31 points per game.

The numbers were just another unnecessary detail for the Lions, Columbus offensive lineman Monreko Crittenden said.

“They’ve got a good D-line and that’s about it on defense,” Crittenden said. “They have good speed and get off the line quick. We’re just focusing on technique, and if we keep that we should be all right.

“We’ve been doing pretty good (on the offensive line) for just two vets and a defensive lineman playing center, so I think we’ll do pretty good against anything.”

Offense no stampede

The Stampede’s defensive prowess has been offset only by their inability to score. They are averaging 29 points per game — 11th in the AIFA. But the Lions see one of their toughest defensive challenges in Harrisburg in covering receiver Silas Daniels and running back and kick returner Eugene Goodman, both of whom were integral parts of the Lions’ 2007 inaugural team that reached the WIFL title game.

“Defense feeds off the offense and offense feeds off the defense, so we need to make those big plays against these guys,” said Lions defensive back Ramone Nickerson, who also played on the 2007 squad.

“We’re going up against two old friends of ours — Eugene and Silas, two tremendous athletes – and we just need to concentrate on shutting them down to do that.”

Gibson said he had faith his defense, which allowed only 19 points last week against the Baltimore Mariners.

“Our defense, I’m not that worried about,” Gibson said. “Our defense is doing for us what some other teams are trying to do on offense. We just have to stay in position and we’ll be fine the way we’re playing.”

ContactChris Whiteat 706-571-8571

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