The 10-game schedule, which includes eight contests against NCAA Division II opponents, also features a trip to Wilmington for the first installment of the Cape Fear Classic, as well as a Parents’ Weekend game against regional rival Wingate at Grace P. Johnson Stadium.
“In our brief, young history here, this is by far the most challenging schedule we had had going into a season,” said UNCP head coach Pete Shinnick. “We’ve got our hands full with great competition. One of the things you want to do is maximize your strength of schedule, and I think we have done that.”
The Braves, who return 17 starters from last season’s 6-4 team, start the season Sept. 5 with a Thursday night home game against Winston-Salem State. It is the first game in program history to not be played on a Saturday.
“I think we’re going to have a great crowd in that (Thursday) opener against Winston-Salem State,” Shinnick said. “It’s the first Thursday night game in the history of the program, and we have the opportunity to play the No. 2 team in the country right out of the gate. Winston-Salem State’s fans travel very well, so I expect it to be a packed house.”
The Braves will make a short trip up Interstate 95 on Sept. 14 to take part in the fifth annual Two Rivers Classic against Fayetteville State. They’ll head east on U.S. 74 the following week (September 21) to play Shaw in the inaugural Cape Fear Classic.
After closing out the month of September with a Parents Weekend contest against Wingate on September 28, the Braves have a bye week Oct. 5 before opening up a three-game road trip on that includes games at first-year FCS program UNC Charlotte, Catawba and Newberry.
The UNCP Homecoming game will be Nov. 2 against Tusculum, which is followed the next week with a game at defending national champion Valdosta State on Nov. 9. UNCP finishes the regular season Nov. 16 at home against NAIA member Virginia-Lynchburg.
“The 2013 schedule makes for a unique season in which UNCP Football will have major marquee games throughout North Carolina.,” said interim athletic director Patrick Sterk. “The Braves will reach beyond the southern portion of the state with games in western North Carolina when we go to UNC Charlotte and to the eastern edge of the state with the Cape Fear Classic game in Wilmington. Our hope is that UNCP fans and alumni throughout the state will take these opportunities to come out and support the Braves as we compete all across North Carolina this fall.”