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Jacksonville Prepares for Gridiron Classic
Beating Dayton 11 days ago to claim undisputed possession of the Pioneer League championship provided Jacksonville University with a double reward, one of which will carry into the 2009 season.
The title earned JU (9-3) a chance to play in its first-ever bowl game against Northwest Conference winner Albany in the Gridiron Classic postseason game on Saturday.
In addition, while the other nine members of the Pioneer League have packed away their equipment until next August, the Dolphins will reap the benefits of another week of practice.
“Our ultimate goal is to win a championship - that’s what we’re about,” Jacksonville coach Kerwin Bell said. “That’s what I want our program to accomplish, to get that one goal. We’ve done that. This is our reward for doing that.
“I know our kids will hit hard, play their hearts out and we want to reward them. We gave the kids off over the Thanksgiving break, but now we’ll be ready to go at it pretty good this week and get ready for Saturday.”
The Dolphins have strung together a school-record seven consecutive wins. Their last loss was on Sept. 27 at Davidson.
JU has done it with a high-powered offense that averaged 38 points per game during their win streak. Four of the seven victories were by more than 30 points.
The Dolphins, a non-scholarship program, will try to maintain the Pioneer League’s unblemished record (3-0) in the Gridiron Classic. It won’t be easy against Albany, a school that awards 30 scholarships to players on an annual basis. The Great Danes (8-3) have their own 7-game winning streak.
“We know they have one of the best backs in the country,” Bell said of Albany’s David McCarty, who rushes for 144 yards per game. “They are a very big, physical team that runs downhill at you. They’re going to try and pound it on you. It will be a strong test for us.”
JU prepares for Gridiron Classic
By Jeff Elliott, The Florida Times-Union