WAXAHACHIE — Head coach Frank Tristan is eager to get his third year of coaching underway at Southwestern Assembly of God University after his program has added 35 recruits to their 2017 roster, which includes student athletes from six different states.

“I am excited about the new season and I’m proud of this recruiting class, not only for the talent that these young men possess but also for their understanding in what it means to be Christian athletes," Tristan said.

"[...] We have a good group of returning seniors, so I will be looking to them for some effective leadership during our 2017 campaign.”

Another plus for the team is the addition of new offensive coordinator Sam Harrell. The veteran coach brings a wealth of success and experience from his previous years of coaching high school football at Ennis and Fort Worth Christian. His coaching legacy has already landed him in the prestigious Texas High School Hall of Fame.

The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is well-represented at SAGU this year, as the following cities are listed on their new roster: Midlothian, Red Oak, Lancaster, Waxahachie, DeSoto, Cedar Hill, Mansfield, Plano, Flower Mound, Dallas Skyline, Mesquite, and Dallas South Oak Cliff.

The Lions are part of the Central States Football League (CSFL) and they are affiliated with the NAIA. To kick-off their season, they hosted and scrimmaged Southwestern University out of Georgetown, Texas last Thursday night, Aug. 24 in Waxahachie.

According to Tristan, “The scrimmage was an overall success. It was a great experience for our younger guys to get game-like reps before our first game that counts. It is so hard to simulate that kind of speed, so I think it was positive for both teams.”

He also added, “We need to solidify our offensive and defensive lines and get some quick maturity from some of our younger players. In addition, some of our transitions in certain situations were not very sharp, so hopefully, we will be able to clean that stuff up as a coaching staff before game time.”

The Lions’ first official conference game is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 2 at Lumpkins Stadium against the Yellow Jackets of Howard Payne University. The contest will begin at 7:00 p.m. and Tristan is happy to announce a few special activities and “freebies” for the home opener.

There will be a bounce house there for the kiddos to enjoy and there will be food trucks on-site for all kinds of good food and refreshments. The football department will also be offering a special deal to get a good crowd in to see the new SAGU team start-off a new season.

Ticket prices are usually $7 for general admission and $10 for chairback seating. However, this Saturday, they will be offering that children 12 and under get in free, with a paid admission of a parent. Also, the parent’s ticket will be discounted to $5. And a special added treat will be that the “12 and under” child will also get a “free” SAGU T-shirt.

Tristan admitted that early rankings find his team in the middle of the pack in the CSFL, but because of the expected return of his starting quarterback, he feels that the Lions might surprise some people this year. Junior signal caller C.J. Collins is back after injuring his ankle in the second game of the season in 2016. He continues to impress his coaches during the first weeks of practice. Collins is from Bosqueville, just outside of Waco.

Another bright spot in the Lions offense is running back J.P. Lowrey, out of Clear Falls, Texas. Devon Petty, an offensive lineman, should be a key player for the Lions, too. He hails from Waco Midway High School.

On the opposite side of the ball, Tristan looks to rely heavily on Matt Lighter (defensive lineman), from Katy, Texas, as well as Carl Morgan (cornerback) from Shreveport, Louisiana.

The head coach added, “SAGU is excited to compete against a very talented and well-coached Howard Payne team Saturday.” He invites fellow Ellis County residents to come on out to the football stadium this season and support Waxahachie’s local university.