By John L. Pitts | NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Asked to compare tonight’s foe, the Lakeland Raiders, with his team’s other Florida-based rival, Mississippi Hound Dogs coach Eric Bingham leans on a familiar contrast.
“The Florida Tarpons are like Oregon, a team that wants to run and run,” Bingham said Friday. “The Lakeland team, they’re really physical, like an SEC team – Alabama, LSU. They want to pound you, hit you in the mouth.”
Lakeland brings a 2-1 record into a 7:30 p.m. indoor pro football game at BancorpSouth Arena. The Raiders beat the visiting Hound Dogs 75-27 on March 17.
The Hound Dogs are 1-4 after a 45-22 loss to the Tarpons last Friday. To avoid a losing season, the Dogs need to win five of their last six games – four of which are at home.
Back to basics
Bingham said he went “back to the drawing board” this week after his team’s most recent loss.
“I’ve been working on the roster, trying to find that right mix of players,” Bingham said. “At this point it’s all about desire. You have to want to win more than the other guy.”
His team trailed Florida 24-16 at halftime last week but could get no closer.
“For the first 30 minutes, we gave a Grade-A effort, but it turned into another game where we couldn’t finish,” Bingham said.
With an offense that’s topped 40 points only once, in the team’s only win, Bingham said he’ll start tonight with Nettleton product Jami Boland at quarterback but will be prepared to “go with the flow of the game” and make a change if needed.
Amory’s Richard McFadden is the Hound Dogs’ backup QB.
The visiting Raiders’ roster includes a familiar face, former Mississippi MudCats receiver Josh Smith. The Boise State product, a Lakeland native, has five TDs this season, including one on a 40-yard kick return.
“When Josh was here he was part of the best receiving corps in indoor football,” Bingham said. “We’ll need to know where he is at all times.”
On Thursday, the Raiders added 6-foot-6 receiver Jarvis Hamilton to their roster.
Tonight’s game is the third in a four-game homestand for the Hound Dogs, who are off next week. They’ll entertain the Eastern Kentucky Drillers on April 21.