Lions Prepare for Showdown with Albany Panthers

COLUMBUS, Ga (WTVM) - The Columbus Lions like their situation right now. The Lions have rolled to a 9-1 record and stand on the verge of clinching the SIFL's Southern Division.

Of course, getting there won't be easy. The defending SIFL champions host the other 9-1 team in the division, the Albany Panthers, this weekend.

The Panthers won the first matchup 46-26 back on April 2 in Albany. The rematch came on May 14, again in Albany, but this time the Lions won it 60-56. The third time will tell the tale, and head coach Jason Gibson likes how this one is setting up for his guys.

"They're going to sit there and tell you they didn't have their defensive players the last game we played," Gibson said. "I'm going to tell you I didn't have our offensive line the first time we played them. So, there's a lot of we-didn't-have / we-didn't have kind of nonsense.

"But we'll find out Saturday. That's usually how it plays out in the field. If you play somebody three times and win two of them, that's the team with the bragging rights."

Fullback Leon Foster agreed with his coach. "There will be no excuses on both ends," said Foster. "Everybody will come to play. Everybody will have everybody who they feel they should have, and it's going to be an all-out battle, so we're ready for it."

Ramone Nickerson talked about the importance of this third matchup between the two rivals. "I mean, it's for the marbles," said the veteran defensive back. "We know what's all at stake, and it's going to be a good, packed night. We win here, we'll have our playoffs at home."

Then Nickerson smiled. "Hey, they're coming to the jungle. Enough said."

The Lions and Panthers will tee it up Saturday night at 7:30 pm ET at the Columbus Civic Center.