BELLEVILLE — The Lindenwood-Belleville football team will make history Saturday, but coach Jeff Fisher doesn't feel the need to stress that point to his squad.
The Lynx will play their inaugural game when they square off against the Avila University Eagles at 1 p.m. Saturday at Lindenwood Stadium.
"We don't address it a ton because it's right there, it's obvious,'' Fisher said. "They know it. They see it every day when they go out and see the color of that football field and see what is going on at the stadium. I think they get that sense and that feeling. I know it'll be pretty heavy that first game. We try to approach it as a business as usual mentality because there is enough pressure with it just being there anyway.''
Formerly known as Township Stadium, Lindenwood Stadium has been fully renovated and includes one-of-a-kind maroon and gray EnirvoTurf field.
"I think we'll have a good crowd,'' Fisher said. " I think this community is excited about this program and what's going on at Township Stadium. Those are things that kids are going to have to block out and focus on the task at hand, and it's not the easiest thing to do.''
Fisher has had just six months to put together a coaching staff and recruit a squad.
Though he went through a similar building project as an assistant coach at McKendree University when it launched its football program in 1995, Fisher admits that he's not sure what to expect this Saturday.
"In this situation, there is definitely a lot mystery and intrigue in how it's going to unfold,'' Fisher said.
"I have that familiarity with going down that road at McKendree. And, honestly, looking at each year that anxiety was very similar to that first year because you don't know what guys did during the summer or how some freshman is going to react to being thrown into the line of fire. I feel good about it. I think we have good kids who worked very hard and picked up the system extremely well.''
The Lynx have 75 freshmen among the 95 players on their roster.
"Probably 85 percent of the roster is freshman, and it'll be their first opportunity on the college level playing football,'' Fisher said. "It will be a definite wake-up call for a lot of them. I think it helps that we've had a number of intrasquad scrimmages under the lights. It gives them a chance to get those butterflies out a little sooner.''
The Eagles were 4-6 last season. Located in Kansas City, Mo., they play in the Heart of America Athletic Conference, which is the same conference that Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo., used to play in.
Eagles coach Justin Berna played for Lindenwood-St. Charles and later served as a coach there prior to serving as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at MacMurray College in Jacksonville.
"They are wide-open, spread (offense), similar to Lindenwood-St. Charles,'' Fisher said. "They've struggled in the league in the past, but they've improved each year that he has been there and I think they are going to continue to do so. It'll be a tough first game, but it wouldn't matter if it were the (New York) Giants. For us, it's going to be a tough first game.''
The Lynx are an NAIA team, but they won't be eligible for the playoffs until next season.
Fisher won't make any projections about wins or losses for his squad, but he's certain the Lynx will be competitive this season.
"I think we're going to be competitive because we have kids who are hungry,'' Fisher said. "There is no doubt that we will be competitive. It's just going to be all those little things. Let's say a kid misses an assignment because he is young, he is thinking about doing something else. Those things are going to happen. We have to coach through them.
"We've addressed a lot of them, but you can't address them all. And, nothing beats actually playing the game to find out exactly where you are at.''
Contact reporter Steve Korte at email@example.com or 239-2522.