A family reunion of sorts will take place when Southern and Prairie View meet for a key SWAC West matchup.
Saturday will mark the return of ex-Prairie View head coach Eric Dooley back to the program that he led to a division title and conference championship appearance just last season.
On the other side, Panthers coach Bubba McDowell will matchup against the man whose eventual departure allowed for the longtime assistant to elevate into the lead role at Prairie View.
The emotional aspect of the game will be present, but will not overshadow what’s at stake for both teams.
“You don’t let it get you off your mark,” Dooley said this week about any sentimental feelings surrounding the game. “You continue what made you successful. Whatever you’ve been doing, you continue to do them. The things you haven’t been doing well, you correct them. You don’t let the opponent change the way you work.”
Southern (2-2) is coming off its best overall performance since the season opener after dispatching Arkansas-Pine Bluff 59-3 a week ago. Prairie View is brimming with confidence after dominating a reeling Grambling outfit in the State Fair Classic.
Both teams know what they’re up against in a game that could decide who wins the division.
“It’s a big week,” McDowell said.
Dooley, who recruited every significant player on the current Prairie View roster, realizes that the cupboard was not left bare after he jettisoned to Southern in the offseason.
“We know they are a good football team,” he said. “We will prepare for them the way we would anyone else. From the games so far he’s doing an excellent job,” Dooley said of McDowell. “They’re in first place. He’s a great coach, and I expect him to continue doing great things at Prairie View.”
For McDowell, the Panthers (3-2) are “buying in” to the new regime under the first-year head coach who said much of what he does is influenced by Dooley.
“When I see success, I’m going to try to pick up on it and use it and implement it on my terms and the way I want it done,” said McDowell. “It’s a team we want to put our own stamp on as a coaching staff and we’ve done a good job this far.
“Coach Dooley, I love him to death. He gave me a chance to coach football when he came in and I’m truly grateful for that. I will always give that guy his roses.”