WINSTON-SALEM — The University of North Carolina at Pembroke football team kicks off the 2018 season against a familiar foe when they travel to Winston-Salem State on Saturday night.
UNCP and Winston-Salem State have kicked off each others seasons in each of the last seven seasons.
The Braves were bogged down by a 2-8 record and look to reverse course this year with a bit more experience.
Head coach Shane Richardson wants his team to be more consistent for an entire game this year.
“Obviously, we know that we didn’t play very well last year,” said Richardson. “We didn’t start very fast…we feel like we just got to put a full four-quarter game together and I don’t know that we’ve done that in a long time.
The Braves sunk into a 20-point hole when the two teams met last August, then proceeded to outscore the Rams 31-14 in the second half. They weren’t able to complete the comeback, however, and lost 34-31. Rams running back Kerrion Moore rushed for 230 yards in that game and will undoubtedly be a focal point for the Braves defense on Saturday as the Rams’ senior tailback.
The Rams went 6-4 in 2017.
There are high expectations for the defensive unit, who returns the majority of its starters including All-American Tyler Hinton. The defensive line, in particular, figures to be a mainstay for the team this year. In addition to Hinton, they return a few players that saw valuable minutes, including starting tackle Nathan London.
Richardson says the key to a win will be what team can handle emotions the best, and that’s when the thrill of football takes over.
“It’s energizing and exciting to go in there when you really are executing at a high level and when you create a little momentum for yourself, it can be very contagious,” he said.
Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at Bowman-Gray Stadium. The last time these two met in Winston-Salem, the Braves came away with a 20-17 win, for the program’s first victory at Bowman-Gray Stadium.
Donnell Coley can be reached at 910-416-5165 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Sportsinmyveins.