Written by Sean Dahlin
BUENA VISTA, Va.—Southern Virginia University Head Football Coach DeLane Fitzgerald today announced his 2013 schedule consisting of ten contests, including six home games.
Southern Virginia's complete 2013 schedule can be viewed on the football section of athletics.svu.edu.
The Knights are coming off a 2012 campaign in which they finished with a 5-6 record for the second-most victories in program history, including a three-game winning streak to cap off the season. Southern Virginia shattered the program record for blocked kicks with 12 (six field goals, five extra points, one punt), defensive points allowed per-game (24.7) and pass break-ups (46).
During his four years at the helm of the Knights' football program, Fitzgerald has amassed a 16-28 record and is excited about the prospects of an even better 2013 season.
"We have one of the most talented and dedicated core of returners since I have been coaching here," said fifth-year Head Coach DeLane Fitzgerald. "I'm optimistic about the season when I see that we have six home games, a great group of players coming back and a solid recruiting class."
Seniors Jake Palmer (Highland, Utah) and Dakoda Winsor (Richland, Wash.) along with juniors Jamal Coates (Conover, N.C.) and Robert Robbins (Glendale, Ariz.) are the captains that will lead Southern Virginia into its 11th season of competition.
Southern Virginia's football season opens at home for the second time in three years when the Knights host Methodist University at Robert E. "Bobby" Williams Field on Sep. 7 at 1 p.m. EDT. Methodist competes in the NCAA Division III USA South Athletic Conference, most recently finishing with a 5-5 (4-3 conference) record in 2012 for the most wins since 2007.
The Monarchs, who promoted former defensive coordinator C.J. Goss to head coach this past spring, faced Southern Virginia in its first contest of program history. On Sep. 6, 2003, Methodist defeated the Knights 38-0 in Fayetteville, N.C. in the lone clash between the two universities.
Heading to Rocky Mount, N.C., the Knights will face their second straight USA South Athletic Conference opponent, North Carolina Wesleyan College, in their first road test of the year and only night game in the fall on Sep. 14 at 7 p.m. EDT. The Bishops hired first-year Head Coach Jeff Filkovski, who finished a five-year stint at Marietta College in Ohio.
North Carolina Wesleyan is coming off a 3-7 campaign and second straight losing season after going 21-10 (18-3 conference) from 2008-10, including back-to-back conference championships (2008-09). Southern Virginia came out on top 24-14 in its 2012 home season opener on Sep. 8, 2012, moving to a 1-2 record against the Battling Bishops overall.
The following week, the Knights continue their second of the three-game road stretch, heading to a neutral site—Salem Football Stadium, home of the NCAA DIII Stagg Bowl—in Salem, Va., to face USCAA-opponent the Virginia University of Lynchburg. The Dragons finished last year with a 2-8 record in their second season back after a 57-year hiatus without football.
In last season's tilt on Sep. 29, 2012, Virginia-Lynchburg pulled out a last-second 19-16 victory on Southern Virginia's turf thanks to a four-yard scramble for a touchdown by quarterback Tyler Harris as time expired.
The final road game of the trip is against future New Jersey Athletic Conference-foe The College of New Jersey, led by 36-year Head Coach Eric Hamilton whose 208 career wins ranks fourth among active NCAA DIII coaches.
Coming off a 4-6 mark in 2012, the Lions will face-off with the Knights in Ewing, N.J., on Sep. 28 at noon, revitalizing the matchup between the two programs. The College of New Jersey holds a 2-0 advantage having won both contests—34-6 on Sep. 27, 2003, and 61-0 on Sep. 25, 2004—in Southern Virginia's first two years of existence.
Following a bye week, the Knights will return to their friendly confines in Buena Vista, Va., for a three-game homestand against Warner University (Oct. 12), The Apprentice School (Oct. 19) and Bluefield College (Oct. 26).
NAIA-affiliate Warner is entering its inaugural season of football with Head Coach Jeff Schaum at the helm. Although this is the first game between the two squads, Southern Virginia and the Lions share three opponents—Ave Maria, Webber International and Concordia-Selma—that the Knights competed against in 2012.
For the first of two matchups in the season, Southern Virginia will then take on rival Apprentice on Oct. 19 for Homecoming at Robert E. "Bobby" Williams Field. Last year, Oct. 5, 2012, the Knights came out on top 20-14, scoring three touchdowns in the final 17 minutes of regulation for the comeback defeat over the Builders in Salem Football Stadium.
Apprentice is the only squad that Southern Virginia has faced each year since its inception in 2003, with the Shipbuilders holding a 7-3 lead in the all-time series. The rivalry has been tight in recent years, however, as the past four games between these schools have been decided by a combined 14 points.
In its final home contest of the swing, Southern Virginia hosts its second NAIA opponent in Bluefield College on Oct. 26 at 1 p.m. EDT. Entering only its second year as a program after a 70-year hiatus, Bluefield is coming off an 0-11 record in its first season back.
The Mid-South Conference-member Rams share three opponents that the Knights played in 2011—Lindsey Wilson College, Kentucky Christian University and the University of Pikeville.
For the second time in three weeks, the football squad will head on the road to Newport News, Va., on Nov. 2 to face Apprentice once again.
In their final two games of 2013, the Knights return home to face in succession NCAA DIII-foes Alfred State College and Southwestern University (Texas).
After its second competition against the Builders, Southern Virginia will take on Alfred State on Nov. 9 at 1 p.m. The Pioneers will be entering their first year in 2013-14 as NCAA Division III provisional members.
Alfred State is coming off a 5-4 season in 2012 for its eighth .500-plus mark during Head Coach Mick Caba's 13-year tenure. Last season, on Oct. 27, 2012, The Knights went on the road to defeat the Pioneers 21-6 in the first ever meeting between the two programs, also starting a three-game winning streak for the visitors.
In the season finale, on Nov. 16, Southern Virginia matches up with Southwestern, which recently reinstated football after having no program for 62 years. The Pirates, from Georgetown, Texas, will be led by Head Coach Joe Austin, who just finished a successful four-year stint at Hanover College in Indiana.
"Fall is just around the corner and we're working hard to prepare our best for the first game of the season," said Fitzgerald. "We had a solid spring and this year will prepare us well for what to expect when we join the NJAC."
The Provisional NCAA Division III member Knights will enter the New Jersey Athletic Conference as football-members only effective July 2014.
All Southern Virginia home football games will be played at the Parry McCluer High School's Robert E. "Bobby" Williams Field. Directions to Parry McCluer High School can be found at athletics.svu.edu.