By Laura Kersey
The cheers of Maroon football players, family and friends echoed from the Student Services Building Sunday afternoon as Eastern was selected to play the University of Richmond (Va.) in the first-round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.”As a football team, we’re not surprised to be in this situation,” Coach Hope said. “We feel like we’ve really worked hard over the last several years to be in position to win a national championship. We feel like we have firepower on the offensive side of the ball and defensive side of the ball and the special teams. We’re excited about the opportunity.”
Coaches and players had speculated throughout the week that the Colonels would play Appalachian State, McNeese or Southern Illinois, the teams regionally closest to Eastern. As the show dwindled down and the Colonels had not been announced, anticipation grew into who its opponent would be.
“I thought looking at the brackets that it might be possible (to play Richmond),” Athletic Director Mark Sandy said. “I thought if we got a home game it would not be Richmond, but James Madison. But, we’re headed to Richmond.”
Sandy is a Richmond graduate and former athletic director. He also coached basketball alongside Richmond’s athletic director at Virginia Military Institute 25 years ago. But Sandy’s not bothered returning to his alma mater wearing maroon.
“We’ll go over and take care of business in Virginia,” Sandy said. “We’ll plan on going over to Richmond and show them where the real football team lives in Richmond, Kentucky.I don’t have any qualms, I’ll have maroon on and be ready to go.”
Despite the good playoff draw, Coach Hope admitted he was disappointed that Eastern was not chosen for a first-round playoff host site.
“I’m disappointed for Richmond and Madison County,” Head Coach Danny Hope said. “I think it would have been a great opportunity and a lot of fun to be at home for Thanksgiving weekend. But, personally it doesn’t matter to me where we play.”
Coach Hope said he knew little about the Spiders, but will spend the majority of the week in preparation for Saturday’s game.
“Until you look at the film its all speculation,” Coach Hope said. “I can tell you what state they are in. I know that much about them. We’ve really focused this on taking it one game at a time. That’s been a difference maker for our team. Even up to yesterday, I didn’t even look to see who was ranked ahead of us. It didn’t matter. So, I can’t tell you anything about them. I can’t tell you what kind of offense they run. I can’t tell you what kind of defense they run.”
The winner of the first-round advances to play either Montana or Wofford (S.C.) Dec. 1 in the quarterfinals. But Hope isn’t looking that far ahead just yet.
“If we don’t beat Richmond it won’t matter,” Hope said.
No. 9 Eastern Kentucky (9-2, 8-0 OVC) will travel to Co-CAA champion No. 6 Richmond (9-2, 7-1 CAA) for the first ever meeting between the two teams. The winner advances to take on either Montana or Wofford (S.C.) Dec. 1 in the quarterfinals.
Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.
ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT TICKET INFORMATION
Eastern Kentucky Ticket Office
1-800-262-7493 (inside Kentucky)
Ticket Office Hours:
Monday – Wednesday Nov. 19-21: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Youth (12 and under): $10
Eastern Kentucky Students (with valid student ID): $5 at the gates only
FAN BUS INFORMATION
The Colonel Club will have a bus to take fans to the Richmond game. The cost for transportation is $100. Meals, lodging and game ticket are NOT included in this price. The bus will depart Eastern at 7 a.m. on Saturday.
To reserve your seat, call the Colonel Club office by Wednesday at noon. That number is 859-622-2046.