MSSU begins spring practice, looks to continue to climb in MIAA in 2022

The Lions are coming off their best season since 2014.

JOPLIN, Mo. – The Missouri Southern Lions are in the middle of their first week of spring football practice.

“You just want to see guys improve,” says head coach Atiba Bradley on opening spring ball, “Sometimes when you have expectations for real young guys, you may get disappointed because they’re not developing fast enough. Everybody develops at their own pace, but the biggest thing is that you don’t want to see guys make the same mistakes day after day.”

Southern currently has about 90 guys in spring camp, with another 30-40 recruits set to join them in the fall.

The team finished with a 3-8 overall record last season, their best finish since winning four games in 2014.

“Seeing success in the fall and seeing what we can do, it makes us all hungry,” says defensive back Dylan Bolden, who had 5 interceptions and 25 tackles last season, “You can see the burn in everybody’s eyes. We’re ready to play in the fall, but we understand that we have to take the baby steps and get the spring right before we get there.”

“For us to be competitive, I think you saw a team that was like oh wow, we can play,” Bradley says of last season, “They were a little surprised. Now we’re moving forward knowing that we can compete, but how do we get over the hump and get more wins?”

“Don’t let our record give you the picture of what we are,” Bolden says, “It’s a whole different team. We just got a couple little pieces to put together and we’re there.”

On top of winning three games, four of their losses were by 10 points or fewer – including a 20-16 game against rival Pittsburg State.

“We’re not intimidated by any team,” Bolden adds, “We feel like we can play with any team that’s out there. We held Pitt State to 20 points, and we were one-point away in the third quarter from winning that game. We think we can play with anybody now.”

The Lions are entering their second season under head coach Atiba Bradley.

“Everybody talks about heading into year two, I’m like well this is really like going into year one,” Bradley says with a laugh, “There’s just still a lot of newness, and we’ll get to August and we’ll add another 30 new guys. We’re relatively young when it comes to experience and playing time.”

Missouri Southern will play their annual spring game on April 9th, and their regular season opener is scheduled for September 1st at home against Nebraska-Kearney.