Alabama A&M head coach Connell Maynor had a special message for his opposite Donald Hill-Eley.
Emblazoned across a gray sweatshirt was the logo for the annual Magic City Classic, and Maynor wanted to remind the Alabama State coach what was ahead come Saturday.
“You see that, Eley?! Eley, you see that?!” Maynor playfully shouted while holding the sweater up to the camera during the Monday’s SWAC coaches Zoom media videoconference. “Let’s go, boy.”
Eley responded with a laugh: “I see you, boy.”
When asked to preview the matchup, Maynor first pointed out that he “could talk junk all week” and that Hill-Eley was the second-best trash talker between the two.
“I’m No. 1 … he’s No. 2,” Maynor said.
Maynor later continued, cautioning Hill-Eley not to blitz quarterback Aqeel Glass, reminding the Hornets coach just how good his wide receivers are in single coverage situations.
“Just know when you blitz, you put them boys (defensive backs) at risk,” he said.
Hill-Eley, not willing to back down from the challenge, asked whether his defense could play with 12 defenders instead of 11 on Saturday.
Alabama State and Alabama A&M will meet once again in one of the marquee games of HBCU football with the added significance of a SWAC East Division championship on the line.
For the Hornets, it would be the program’s first SWAC East title since 2010. The Bulldogs haven’t won the division in a decade.
“It means a lot to us to show the growth and the progress that we could compete week in and week out with anybody in the conference,” said Hill-Eley. “More importantly, at this juncture of the schedule, that we have a chance to do something that hadn’t been done around here in a while and win a championship.”
With everything at stake — a win over a heated rival and a trip to the SWAC Championship Game within reach — there is quite frankly no extra motivation needed for either side.
“He (Hill-Eley) doesn’t have to give them a rah-rah speech. I don’t have to give mine,” said Maynor. “Guys know what’s on the line. It’s going to be a great football game as it always is.”