It’s a lot easier planning to mix team meetings and a pep rally in Turpin Stadium the night before a game, than following an itinerary from a hotel hours away from home.
That makes a short work week a lot better for Northwestern State football coach Jay Thomas, his staff and team. The Demons kick off their home and Southland Conference schedule Thursday evening at 6 in Turpin Stadium hosting Incarnate Word.
While the Cardinals will travel from San Antonio Wednesday, the Demons will be attending class, going through a light walk-through, then into position meetings in the evening before heading outside at 8 to soak up the energy of The Inferno, the NSU student section, at a high-energy pep rally in Turpin Stadium.
Thomas and his squad are counting on The Inferno and other Demon fans to provide a boost for the White Out Game Thursday, while the team dons white helmets and white uniforms at home. In his first three seasons as the NSU coach, Thomas’s teams are 11-4 at Turpin Stadium.
“Our student section, our band, they’re just awesome, and that’s a big part of it,” he said. “Our guys take a lot of pride playing in front of their peers, their professors, their friends in town, and the tradition we have here. It makes a difference doing the Demon Walk through the tailgaters, touching the Link monument walking out on the field to warm up, running out of the locker room through the purple smoke right before kickoff.”
No Demon enjoys playing in Turpin more than senior running back De’Mard Llorens, who has done it for the last eight years, four with NSU after four with Natchitoches Central High School.
“I never wanted to play anywhere else,” he said. “Being a Demon like my brother (Kendrick) was my goal. Now that this is the start of my last season, it’s bittersweet, but right now mostly it’s very exciting.
“I can’t even count how many people from the town come fill the stands, watch me play, watch the Demons play,” said Llorens. “It’s amazing, a really good feeling.”
Llorens savors the novelty of the White Out Game.
“It’s fun. Watching my brother play here (1999-2001, before a year in the NFL at cornerback with the New York Giants), I never saw him wearing white jerseys at home. This is something our generation has started,” he said, starting to grin. “The girls come to the games wearing white, everybody is looking sharp, and it gets us hyped up.”
Senior safety Ralph Green, who wore an all-white tuxedo to one of his high school proms, is completely on board with the special wardrobe.
“It does hype up everybody, a lot. It brings a great vibe to the game for us,” he said.
Llorens has a very simple key to success for the Demons Thursday night.
“Score. Our defense will do its job, and offensively, we just need to put points on the board.”