High expectations in 2018 Labor Day Classic

High expectations in 2018 Labor Day Classic

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - By 5 p.m. Saturday in ASU Stadium, the lights will be on as two teams, Alabama State and Tuskegee, battle it out in the Marion Nine Labor Day Classic.

For the second year in a row, the Hornets and Golden Tigers open the season and they'll do so for at least the next two years after 2018.

Alabama State is looking for success in this year's battle after they lost 14-6 in last season's meeting. But just how good could Saturday's game be?

If you go by preseason predictions, Saturday's contest could be one of the best games all season for both teams.

Starting with Alabama State. Not only are the Hornets looking for their first bit of success against Tuskegee in a while (haven't beaten them since 2011), but they're also looking to live up to expectations after finishing last season with five wins in the final six games.

The Hornets are under new leadership - permanent leadership - in Donald Hill-Eley. Eley was promoted to interim head coach in the middle of last season, and led the turnaround for ASU. Under Eley, the Hornets' play picked up in all aspects of the game. The offense began to average more points (7.4 ppg to 19.5 ppg) and the defense began to allow less (25.2 ppg to 12 ppg).

ASU was picked to finish second in the in Eastern division of the Southwestern Athletic Conference in 2018, thanks in large part to the effort they showed in the back half of last season.

But there's one uphill battle they face. The Tuskegee Golden Tigers led by Willie Slater.

The Golden Tigers won nine games in 2017 en route to winning the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship, and they've been picked to repeat as West division champions once again. They boast the preseason SIAC Defensive Player of the Year in junior linebacker Davoris Thomas, as well as several First Team All-SIAC preseason selections.

So, from this aspect, Saturday's game should be entertaining for everyone involved.

As for the historical battle between the two schools, Tuskegee has owned Alabama State. The Golden Tigers hold a 62-34-4 advantage over the Hornets all-time dating back to their first meeting in 1901.

Except for 12 years in the history's meeting,the two teams have played annually, and prior to last year the two teams hadn't played each other since the 2012 Turkey Day Classic.

Since 2006, Tuskegee holds a record of 6-2 against Alabama State, and has won 13 out of 21 meetings dating back to 1993.

Eley is looking to breathe life back into a proud program at Alabama State while Slater looks to maintain the success of the Golden Tigers.

Prior to Saturday's game, there will be an Air National Guard flyover featuring a Red Tail plane and fighter jet.

What awaits the 101st meeting between the two schools?

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