Team attempts to focus on game, not festivities

The parties. The parades. The step shows. While these elements have their place during Homecoming Week, they surround the campus’s central event, which takes place Saturday afternoon: the homecoming football game.

“The homecoming game is always an exciting time for us,” said redshirt sophomore running back Anthony Edwards.

Edwards said he is anxious to get back on the field after sitting out the last two games due to leg injuries.

“My legs are feeling better, so I am going to be out there,” Edwards said.

The Rattlers (4-3 overall, 2-2 MEAC) are coming off a thrilling 36-33 overtime win over the Norfolk State Spartans.

The win put the team over .500 heading into the homecoming game.

The team hasn’t enjoyed this luxury since 2002 when they played Hampton University.

Starting quarterback Albert Chester said the win against Norfolk State gave the team some much-needed confidence going into this week.

“When you win, you always build momentum. So now it feels like we have the ball rolling again,” Chester said.

The Rattlers prepare to take on the Morgan State Bears (4-4 overall, 3-2 MEAC) Saturday.

The Bears suffered a 29-7 loss to Delaware State Hornets during Morgan State’s homecoming last week.

While homecoming is a time for the Florida A&M family to celebrate, the football players will work to remain focused.

“Coach (Rubin) Carter has been talking to us about staying focused. This being homecoming week, there are a lot of distractions,” said Chester, who comes off a 266-yard, 14 for 24 passing performance.

“It’s supposed to be a fun week, but it’s no fun if you don’t win on Saturday.”

Junior Vernon Wilder said that staying focused may be hard for the team considering its youth, but they are ready to overcome the temptation to lose focus.

“It’s hard for our young players. But we have done the same thing we would if it wasn’t homecoming week,” said Wilder, who led the Rattlers with 12 tackles and one sack last week. “We have to stay disciplined and remember that we have a football game to play.”

“My first homecoming game was last year. I can remember that the adrenaline was up a little bit. You can see all the stands are full, and you might want to go and try to make a big play. But after the first series, you kind of calm down,” Wilder said.

The team understands how important a win will be for the team, he said.

“This is a game that you are supposed to win. You know with all the alumni coming here and the stands are full, you almost have to win,” Wilder said.

The game starts at 3 p.m. at Bragg Memorial Stadium.