MARIETTA, Ga. – Well, maybe lucky isn’t the right word but heading to the D1A National Championship on May 18, I doubt Life cares a great deal about how they got there. But their progress has been pretty incredible in just three short years.
Cal beat Life 43-10 in the quarterfinals in 2011 and BYU won 26-20 in semifinals in 2012. Inching ever closer to an appearance in the big game, it’s now Life’s turn to get a shot at a national title.
With two weeks to prep for the championship, Life Head Coach Dan Payne is looking forward to breaking down the tape from the team’s 18-13 win over rivals Arkansas State on Saturday May 4. When he spoke about the team’s performance, he was gushing about his team’s effort, but also acknowledged that the semifinal could have gone either way.
“Like all the games when [Life and Arkansas State] meet, it came down to the bounce of the ball. We made a couple of really good goal line stands… It really was a collective effort,” Payne said.
Looking at what the win and the first appearance in a national championship meant for the fledgling program (it’s only been around for three years), Payne put it in the context of what it means for his players.
“It’s nice for the guys to get a reward for their hard work. [The championship] is going to be another great match,” Payne said, adding that the core group of players that have helped the program grow deserve the opportunity to play for a national title.
Life will face St. Mary’s in the National Championship on May 18, 2013 in Greensboro, N.C. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3 and re-aired on ESPNU.