SEMO football opens conference play against unfamiliar foe Lindenwood

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KBSI) – Not only will this Saturday mark the first of October and the first Ohio Valley Conference game for the Southeast Missouri State football team in 2022, but it will also be the first matchup between the Redhawks and Division 1 newcomer Lindenwood. 

“It’s just something about the first time, right, like we don’t know much about them, they don’t know much about us,” head coach Tom Matukewicz said. “From a proximity standpoint, we’re obviously going to be in the same league, we’re going to be competing in recruiting and everything else. Hopefully this will turn into a rival that everyone looks forward to playing each year.” 

The Redhawks soared into the Stats Perform Top 25 Poll at number 24 this week after consecutive wins over Southern Illinois, Nicholls State, and Central Arkansas. 

Safety Lawrence Johnson and quarterback Paxton DeLaurent said getting caught up in the rankings just takes the focus off the task at hand. 

“Just don’t let it go to our heads,” Johnson said. “The rankings, none of that matters. It’s all about this week. Each and every week, it’s all about the week that we’re on. The rankings and stuff don’t matter, like who’s first in the conference, it doesn’t matter. It’s all about Saturday, who we play on Saturday.” 

“It’s hard as a human because you want to be ranked, you want to say, ‘We’re ranked in the top 25.’ That’s a very satisfactory feeling, but you just have to put that to the side and know what you did to get there, because you don’t want to just throw it all away and have it be a waste,” DeLaurent said.

Lindenwood made the move to Division 1 this season from the Division 2 Great Lakes Valley Conference, in which they went 14-0 in two seasons. 

DeLaurent said the Redhawks want to make a statement in the first game of this rivalry. 

“We want to set a tone both running and passing, whether that’s on a fade ball, at the point of attack, being physical there, outside blocking, inside run blocking, pass protection. We just want to be physical, pay attention, and have no mental errors,” he said.

Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Hunter Stadium.

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