Fort Valley State prepares for historic opener against Tuskegee in Red Tails Classic
BY CALEB SLINKARD
SEPTEMBER 03, 2021 02:57 PM
Fort Valley State University football coach Maurice Flowers had a challenging start to his Wildcat career. The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) canceled the 2020 season due to COVID-19, and the more than 20-year veteran had to wait until this spring to lead his team on the field.
The Wildcats were successful in their abbreviated season, defeating Shorter University in Rome 36-18 and running away from Erskine, 45-21.
This season, however, will be different. FVSU is planning to play a full complement of games, beginning on a major stage: The Wildcats will travel to Alabama to take on Tuskegee University in the inaugural Red Tails Classic. The event was created by ESPN to showcase Historically Black Colleges and Universities and honor the Tuskegee Airmen.Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Sunday in Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl
, and will be broadcast on ESPNU, part of an opening week schedule that began with a UAB and Jacksonville State game Wednesday. The Blazers won 31-0.
“I think it’s great to start the season off with a quality opponent,” Flowers told the Telegraph Friday. “They’re a championship program with a championship head coach in Willie Slater. They’re going to be well-coached, athletic and strong.”
Fort Valley last played Tuskegee in 2018, a 17-6 home loss.
“The travel is going to be something we’re familiar with as a team, because we played both games on the road in the spring,” Flowers said. “The big game environment; with the history and tradition of playing winning football at Fort Valley State, you expect to play in big games.
“It’s great the Tuskegee Airmen are being recognized for all of their contributions as fighter pilots. It’s a tremendous honor to play in the game.”
Flowers said that even though the Wildcats weren’t able to play a full 2020 season, he and his coaching staff have spent the past year and a half building relationships with players, implementing systems on offense, defense and special teams and emphasizing the importance of academics, which has resulted in more than 50 players maintaining a higher than 3.0 GPA.
The Wildcats will play on their recently resurfaced field in their season opener on Sept. 18 against Lane College. That game will be broadcast on ESPN+. Additional games that will be broadcast on ESPN+ include the Wildcats’ Oct. 16 matchup against Morehouse, their Oct. 30 showdown with Savannah State, and the Nov. 6 Fountain City Classic versus Albany State.https://www.macon.com/article253981243.html