Phoenix seek rare 3-0 start

Andy Reed • Sep 7, 2017 at 6:31 PM

Hurricane Irma’s threatening approach toward Florida has affected much of the Mid-South Conference.

A couple of games have been canceled while Cumberland’s home game against Webber International has been moved up to 6 p.m. Friday at Nokes-Lasater Field.

That has condensed the schedule for the Phoenix’s preparation for the contest.

“It took away one of our work days,” Cumberland coach Donnie Suber said at the conclusion of Thursday’s practice. “Today, we did a little bit lesser on Thursday than we normally do.

“It hurts. But they left Wednesday to start traveling so it’s affected them just as much as it is us.”

Webber International, located in Babson Park, Fla., in the middle of the Florida peninsula, requested the game be moved up from its scheduled Saturday afternoon start to enable the Warriors to return home before the storm arrives. As a player at Georgia Southern in 1989, Suber played in the midst of Hurricane Hugo, an ESPN-televised game with Middle Tennessee State known today as the Hugo Bowl.

“It changes everything up,” Suber said. “Your mind’s not as focused as it probably needs to be because you’re worried about your family because they’re going to be away and they’re trying to get the coaches back to their families before the hurricane hits. They canceled two other games (Southeastern at Georgetown and Warner at Campbellsville).”

Webber is one of five Florida-based schools which joined the MSC this year. Holdover member Faulkner (from Montgomery, Ala.) joined its new Sunshine State brethren to form the league’s Sun Division. Keiser will start football next year.

The Warriors are 1-1 following a 3-0 win over St. Andrews last week. They dropped a 10-7 decision to Point on Aug. 26.

“They’re very athletic,” Suber said of the Warriors. “Quarterback runs and throws the ball very well. Defensively, they’ve only given up seven points. They’re 1-1, but nobody’s really moved the ball on them. They’re struggling scoring a little bit, but they’ve had opportunities. I think they’re a fairly young team. We’re going to have to show up and play.”

On the flip side, Cumberland put up 42 points in a two-point win at the Cumberlands last week after a 24-point showing in the opener against Bluefield, making the Phoenix 2-0 for the first time since 2000 and just the fourth time since the program was reinstated in 1990. The Bulldogs, as they were then called, also won their first two games in 1993 (their only NAIA playoff year) and ’98.

“We’re giving up a lot of points, too, so it’s a double-edged sword,” Suber said. “The offense played well last week. The first week, we struggled a little bit… We just got to minimize our penalties, not have any turnovers and we got to shore up our special teams and make sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to do and not giving them the ball inside the 30 every time.”

As for the 2-0 start, scheduling has played a big factor.

“We usually open up with Georgetown or a money game,” Suber said. “The money game got moved back two more weeks. We need to get all the wins we can before we go into (Presbyterian College, a member of NCAA Division I-AA).”

Suber said the Phoenix are healthy for the game.

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