MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The excitement began building before this week, but it's only grown stronger as Saturday approaches.
When the 16th-ranked Huntingdon football team takes on 5th-ranked Wesley College at 1 p.m. Saturday, Samford Stadium will be hosting its first battle of Top-25 teams. At stake is a potential Pool B bid for the NCAA Division III playoffs.
"As a coach, you try to treat every game the same, but there are certain games that are more important and a little more special than the others," Huntingdon head coach Mike Turk said. "This is a big game for our program."
Both Huntingdon (5-1) and Wesley (6-1) enter the game with four-game winning streaks. The Wolverines are coming off a 30-13 win over Menlo. Huntingdon is returning to the field for the first time since Oct. 6 when the Hawks knocked off Millsaps 45-24.
"We've certainly had plenty of time to think about this game," Turk said, referring to the back-to-back off weeks the Hawks had in mid-October. "We had to take a different approach the past two weeks. The thing we tried to do was have some kind of full-speed, best-on-best competition each practice to help us stay sharp and keep our competitive edge."
This will be the fifth time Huntingdon and Wesley have met. The Wolverines took the first four games, including a 54-13 win last season. The Wolverines have developed into a perennial Division III power, winning 82 games and reaching the semifinals five times in the past seven seasons.
"When you look at them, you see 11 good players on each side of the ball," Turk said. "They don't really have weak areas that you can exploit, so that makes it even more important for us to play at a high level. This is a game where every play is going to be important and each player's assignment on each play is important.
"It's going to take our best effort to be in there and have a chance in the fourth quarter. We know we have to execute and try to match their level of play. Once the game starts, anything can happen."