FLORENCE, Ala. (roarlions.com) - The Chris Willis era of University of North Alabama football could not open on a bigger stage as his sixth ranked Lions host No. 5 ranked Texas A&M-Commerce Thursday at Braly Stadium at 6 p.m.
Willis has taken the reigns of a program that he has helped guide to seven conference championships and 12 playoff appearances in his 15 years at the school. With few returning starters, the Lions were still selected as the favorite to win a fifth straight Gulf South Conference title and are ranked sixth nationally in the pre-season American Football Coaches Association Division II poll.
Across the field, the Lions of Texas A&M-Commerce have won three straight Lone Star Conference championships and are pre-season favorite to win a fourth. Texas A&M-Commerce returns 53 lettermen and 14 starters, including quarterback Luis Perez who threw for 3,326 yards and 32 touchdowns last season. TAMC also returns eight starters on the defensive side.
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