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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Homecoming marks Harper's home debut

Friday, September 23, 2011

By STEVEN MARSH - Sports Editor

FERRUM -- In terms of logistics, the schedule makers did first-year Ferrum College football coach David Harper no favors.

In the first six weeks, they gave him four roads games, an early open date and a home opener that doubles as the Panthers' Homecoming game.

That home opener, Harper's first at head coach at W.B. Adams Stadium is Saturday. The opponent is Bridgewater College (2-0).

Kickoff is 2 p.m.

Harper, a Ferrum alumnus, Hall of Fame member and one of seven former student-athletes who has had his jersey retired, often speak of the college in its totality -- both academic and athletic.

For that reason, Homecoming is an important day and the football game takes a higher priority regardless of the opponent.

"It's extremely important,' Harper said. "It's a positive day. All of the alumni who come back love a positive experience...That adds to the excitement.

"I think the Ferrum College football team needs a win, but I understand the big picture -- the college, the community and everything else,' Harper said.

Harper said he wishes Ferrum had had a home game prior to Saturday.

"Everything just fell into one day -- my first home game as head coach, our first home game of the season, Homecoming.'

It's possible that Ferrum will play before its largest home crowd of the season.

Why? Because its second and third home games are on Fall Break weekend and Folklife Festival weekend, while home game Nos. 4 and 5 are on consecutive November weekends with the winter season at the year's doorstep.

Saturday also is Ferrum's final tune-up game before the start of USA South Athletic Conference play.

"There are just a lot of things to play for,' Harper said.

The Ferrum-Bridgewater series goes on hiatus after Saturday too.

In 2012 and 2013, the Panthers will play non-conference games against Emory & Henry College, Shenandoah University and Southern Virginia University.

Ferrum (0-2), which has only scored 26 points in two games, has lost five straight games to non-conference opposition: two to Emory & Henry and one each to Southern Virginia, Bridgewater and Hampden-Sydney.

The Panthers are 17-9 in 26 Homecoming games, but the set includes a 10-3 mark since 1998.

The only other time Ferrum has played Bridgewater on Homecoming was in 1988. The Panthers won 47-3.

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