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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Golden Tigers looking for repeat Classic performance

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In terms of Black college football dominance, it does not get better than the Golden Tigers of Tuskegee University.

The nation’s most winning team among Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the Golden Tigers are the reigning Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) Champions and were undefeated in conference play last season.

Under fourth year Head Coach Willie Slater, Tuskegee has not lost a beat, carrying the Golden Tigers to a 35-4 record since taking the helm.

But for all of this team’s greatness, Tuskegee’s 2009 Circle City Classic rematch rival is one that has historically had their number. Despite last year’s Classic 34-24 victory over the Alabama A&M Bulldogs, Tuskegee is 20-22-3 against their interstate rival.

While recent history and the title of Classic favorites remain on their side, the Golden Tigers enter this year’s rematch with much to prove in their quest for a SIAC repeat.

At 3-1 this season, heading into a match-up versus Kentucky State, Tuskegee is seeking to sustain conference dominance despite major roster changes. Most significant among them, the Golden Tigers are led at quarterback by red shirt freshman Jeremy Williams.

The first year starter has been off and on in his short career, which includes a two-interception performance in this season’s 23-16 loss to Miles. The surprising loss broke the team’s 17-SIAC conference winning streak.

Despite this transition, the Golden Tigers return a key group of starters that are familiar to winning. Among them, senior offensive linemen Michael Stevens and Danny Daniels clearly understand their role to protect their inexperienced quarterback, something Coach Slater says the line is improving as the season progresses.

“The offensive line is really playing well,’’ Slater said following the team’s Week 4, 31-21 conference victory over Clark Atlanta.”Pass protection has been good. They’re progressing real well. I’m pleased with the offensive line.’’

In addition to O-Line support, Tuskegee will also bring a powerful rushing attack, led by senior running back Tony Forney. A consistently dominant aspect of the Golden Tigers’ offense, Tuskegee averages 145 rushing yards per game this far this season. In last year’s Classic, Forney contributed 73 of the team’s total 283 rushing yards against Alabama A&M, which powered the team’s impressive victory.

Should Tuskegee dominate the ball on the ground as they did in the Lucas Oil Stadium Classic debut, A&M will be in store for another long afternoon. For all of this team’s historical dominance, the road to an SIAC repeat happens one game at a time.

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