Lions prepare for SIFL playoff opener

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - College football may still be two months in the future, but for the Columbus Lions, their shot at a second straight SIFL championship is just three weeks away if they can take care of business.

And playoff business starts Saturday night when they host the Trenton Steel in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Lions racked up the second best record in the league at 11-1, and that means they'll be home for at least the first two rounds of the playoffs. Life is good as far as wide receiver Gerald Gales is concerned.

"Ain't no better place than playing at home," said Gales. "Playing at home in front of your hometown crowd and having the support of your fans and your family loved ones, you're more comfortable playing in your own backyard."

Anthony Merritt agreed. "We've always been tough to beat at home," he said. "We're really looking forward to it. We're going to have the crowd behind us. It's going to be loud. That's the mentality that we have. I just feel like the momentum has been picking up. It's almost like a snowball effect, just getting bigger and bigger as we go downhill."

The Lions defense will have its hands full. Trenton's offense averages 69 points a game, second best in the league. On the other hand, the lions defense gives up a league-fewest 39 points per contest. It sets up as irresistible force versus immovable object.

"Worlds are going to collide," said Lions head coach Jason Gibson. "If you look a sports history, people tell you defense wins championships. I'm hoping that that's the case here, but you never know.

Gibson isn't shy about why he feels upbeat about the first-round matchup. That reason is SIFL interceptions leader Damien Daniels, who has 18 picks in 12 games. "I've got the best defensive back in all of indoor football, ever. If you haven't ever played against him, you'll find out. Coupled with what we've got on the defensive line, I think we're going to be okay."

The Lions will find out just how much Daniels and company can disrupt the Steel's passing attack on Saturday night. Kickoff is set for 7:30 pm ET at the Columbus Civic Center.