Mercer University is gearing up for its first football game in 72 years. Building a football program has been a main priority for the athletic department the last few years. The excitement started when Bobby Lamb was named head coach last year. After the 2012-2013 practice season, players, fans, and the administration are hungry for competition.
Season tickets sold out in 27 minutes according to the Mercer box office. On Monday morning, they sold an additional 1,000 berm seats near the end zone in 37 minutes. Fans in the community couldn’t be more excited for Mercer Football to return.
Mercer students are ecstatic for the opening game as well. Sophomore, Jamie Coates confesses, “Even though my freshmen year here at Mercer was amazing, there was definitely something missing–in my opinion, every college should have a football team.” As a previous cheerleader in high school, Coates always loved the Friday night games. Now, she says that she is “excited to see what the boys can do” and “will definitely be in the stands cheering for them.”
While Mercer has been gearing up for the game through banners, ticket sales, and fancy new T-shirts, the football team has been buckling down to prepare for opening season. Sophomore Eli Grambling comments on the positive effect of the football hype around campus.
“When other people inform us of their excitement, it makes us even more excited. Also, when we found out how quickly the tickets sold, that boosted our enthusiasm even more.”
The team has been channeling this excitement into hard work during their 16-day preseason. They arrived on campus July 31and hit the field and the weight room hard. “We’ve been lifting, conditioning, and practicing hard for this upcoming year,” says Grambling. “I feel like we’re ready, we’ve been waiting for this moment for a year now, and we’re more than excited to take the field.”
The Bears ended their intense week of camp with a preseason Black and White scrimmage. Both coaches and players were thrilled with the results of the scrimmage. Caleb Brown set the tone for the offense with a score in the first quarter. Quarterbacks John Russ and Josh Moore made a few rushing scores of their own. On the defensive side, Lendell Arnold had a clutch interception on fourth down in the second half.
With the scrimmage and fall camp over, the Bears are ready to take on Reinhardt University in the first competitive game.
Despite their youth and lack of experience, the team has meshed exceptionally fast. “You don’t see that happen as quick as we did often,” says Grambling, “We’re brothers. We’ve grinded with each other for a while now, so we’re ready to go to battle now.”
The 2013-2014 football season will kick off at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 31. The dedication and work ethic of the players and the support from the fans provides a recipe for success as the Bears return to the gridiron for the first time in 72 years.