Why I hate SFA

I don’t like Stephen F. Austin.The Lumberjacks top the list of teams I loathe, which includes Texas A&M and the Dallas Cowboys.Four and a half years ago when I started my collegiate journey, I couldn’t have told you anything about SFA other than it was a university in Nacogdoches. Now, when I hear the Lumberjacks mentioned my anger begins to build.I wouldn’t consider my feeling towards the Lumberjacks as psychotic by any means, just a bit on the far side of severe hatred.I have friends at the school and know players on the football team. Most weekends I don’t wish ill will on these people; I just hope they lose. A good weekend in sports for me is when SFA, A&M and the Cowboys lose.Maybe I am a little more passionate about my feelings for SFA than the average Bearkat, but one person I know shares my feelings is Leroy Wilkinson, a former SHSU athlete and life-long Bearkat supporter.The following are stories Wilkinson recalls about the SHSU/SFA rivalry.One year, the two schools met up on the SHSU campus for a basketball game. The gym was packed with screaming fans. An hour before tip off the SFA football team arrived, overdressed in their plaid wood-chopping shirts.The players endeared themselves to the crowd when they produced the Huntsville city limit sign and paraded it around the gym. There was little the biggest Bearkat football player could do to dissuade the crowd from retrieving the sign from the marauders. But, in those days, you didn’t get back at the enemy, you got even.Before the final buzzer sounded in the ball game, SHSU football players entered the gym, parading the Nacogdoches city limit sign. The players had made an approximately 180 mile round trip to secure the prize. Obviously, the spirit of the moment had clouded their otherwise good judgment, but the Bearkats had answered the challenge of the Lumberjack mob.Wilkinson said his stance on the SFA versus SHSU issue has done nothing but harden in recent history.In 1989, SFA won the Southland Conference and lost to Georgia Southern in the Division I-AA National championship game. The NCAA vacated the runner-up championship from the Lumberjacks because the team had played an ineligible player, but in its 2000 recruiting (Media) guide, SFA lists them as the 1989 NCAA Division I-AA runner up. Wilkinson asks, where’s the trophy?In 1997, SHSU’s Yohance Bree returned a punt 71 yards with 4:04 left in the game for a 14-10 Bearkat win in Nacogdoches. Following the game SFA coach John Pierce was quoted as saying, “This is the worst loss in the history of the Stephen F. Austin football program.”In 1997, Bennie Wiley raced 48 yards with 1:22 left in the game to win 33-28.”I can’t imagine that another game could be the worst in SFA history,” Wilkinson said. “But then, maybe that one was.”Wilkinson holds the SFA versus SHSU rivalry in such high regard, it ranks almost as high as his wedding anniversary.”Other than my wedding anniversary, those days in which the Bearkats encounter the Lumberjacks are my favorite days of the year,” he said. “I have a lot of friends and family who are Lumberjacks and SFA alums. But, one thing is certain, my love and affection for them is in no way associated with their alma mater. Some special things just happen in spite of circumstances.”Although Wilkinson and I are not close in age, we have a bond in our hatred for SFA. The rivalry with SFA surpasses age and comes down one thing: the superiority of our school over theirs, the mindset of a true Bearkat fan.

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