Relegated to spectator status in the race for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship after Thursday’s 38-3 loss to South Carolina State, the Morgan State football team will wrap up the season Saturday with a road game against Delaware State.
The Bears (4-7 overall and 4-3 in the league) have assured themselves of their fourth consecutive year with a losing record, but they have an opportunity to secure their first above-.500 mark in the conference since 2008 if they can knock off the Hornets (5-5, 5-2).
“You still have the opportunity to have a chance to win five conference games, which gives you a chance to go back and build off of that,” coach Donald Hill-Eley said Tuesday on the MEAC conference call. “There’s only one out of 11 that is going to have a chance to win the championship, and just like everyone else, you want to teach these young men how to finish and how to sort of leave things better than what it was when they received it.”
For every coach involved in a meaningless season finale, there is the potential for players to tune out the coaching and the game plans as they welcome the season’s end. It’s a risk that every coach understands, especially one like Hill-Eley who has coached Morgan State for the past 12 seasons.
“When you’re dealing with these young men – regardless of if it’s after a win or after a loss – the guys may not be listening,” he conceded. “But as a coach, you have to work them.”
The one thing fans can expect to see is many of the same starters who have opened games this season. While some coaches might view the last game as a chance to audition backups and younger players, Hill-Eley said that is not the approach that he is taking.
“The ones that we’ve played are the guys we’re going to play going into next year,” he said. “The ones we haven’t played are the ones that we’re going to redshirt and move on. You try to get into a position to win, and I don’t think we’re in a position to sit guys out and try to play [other] guys. But we’ll see more and more sequences of guys that will be coming back next year.”