ALBANY, GA (WALB) - It is homecoming week for Albany State, one of the most anticipated weeks on the calendar.
While that means a lot of fun for the fans and students, it usually means something different for the football team.
The Golden Rams host Clark Atlanta Saturday for homecoming. While the ASU community will be celebrating all week, Dan Land's football team will be hunkered down preparing for the much-improved Panthers.
The Rams must win out to reach the SIAC Championship Game, something Land says has made this week easier. But he says Homecoming is always a little tougher on the coaches than other game weeks, because of the distractions that can draw a player's attention.
"Homecoming is supposed to be fun with all the people and alums. At the same time, these guys know where we are," Land says. "We have to make sure we keep them focused from all the festivities until Saturday night. Win the game first, then go out and have a good time."
Land says having a senior-laden team does make those distractions a little less worrisome, especially when team leaders are able to corral in the younger players experiencing their first Homecoming.
"It's going to be hard for them, because they're going to want to go out and have fun this first year," says senior DL Grover Stewart. "So I'll tell them to have fun, but they have to remain focused."
Clark Atlanta is much improved from Panther teams in recent memory. CAU is currently second in the SIAC East, one game back of Albany State.
It's a 2:00 Homecoming kickoff at the ASU Coliseum.