This year’s Florida Classic battle will have more significance as both the Rattlers and Wildcats are jockeying for the third spot in the MEAC.
The 29th Annual Florida Classic will be held in Orlando on Saturday, Nov. 22 in the Florida Citrus Bowl at 2 p.m.
The rivalry between Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman is a fan favorite. FAMU is currently leading the classic series 18-10, but overall 45-15-1.
The Rattlers are hoping to continue their winning streak on Saturday so that they may have a chance at extending their season.
The Rattlers and the Wildcats are both seeking a second place position in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference behind South Carolina State with both teams having eight wins.
The Rattlers are a different football team this year than the one that fell to the Bobcats last year.
The Rattlers return with a new coach, new attitude, and different confidence level.
“I feel very confident, last year our confidence level probably wasn’t this great, but this year is like it has improved a whole lot,” said Gregory Clark, a senior and defensive back, from Tampa.
The Rattlers are seeking ways to improve so that they can become a better football team.
“We just have to make sure we play physical on the defensive side. On the offensive we have to make sure that we execute our blocks, so that we get the run game going which will open up the pass for Eddie Battle and Curtis Pulley,” said Victoriano Arboleda, senior and defensive back, from Tampa.
Veteran linebacker Vernon Wilder feels that in order for the football team to be better, improvement starts from within.
“I have to work on my tackling and defense like always. I always try to get perfect on defense and work on my run fit in our assignments. Offense I guess needs to work on catching the ball, running the ball and finding the right cut backs and the right holes to run in, work on blocking and work on everything, said Vernon Wilder, senior and middle line backer, from Miami.
Taj Jenkins on the other hand treats every game the same.
“I feel the same like I did last year, it’s a game that we have to win. It’s more excitement this year than last year I will say because of everything that has happened this season and the season that we’re having. Every game is exciting to me because this is my senior year, so I treat every game as my last game and I’m just real excited to be out here playing,” said Taj Jenkins, senior and tight end, from Jacksonville.
The Rattlers are treating the classic game no differently from the others, the routine hasn’t changed.
“Basically everything we do every week. Practice, lift some weights, the usual, the whole routine is the same, said Gregory Clark, senior and defensive back, from Tampa.
Coach Taylor has high expectations for this game, and the players as a whole.
“Yeah and not just for winning football games, but becoming good people. Being difference makers…that’s what this blueprint is all about for this program. The high expectations that’s why we get up every morning. The good Lord give us the day and we try to make the best of it,” said Coach Taylor.
Victoriano Arboleda agrees with Coach Taylor that the special teams will play a major factor in the game.
“I think special teams is going to play a big part of the game. If we get LeRoy going early it’ll be helpful for the offense. The short field position for the offense is always good. Our goal for this week is to get LeRoy the record,” said Victoriano Arboleda, senior and defensive back, from Tampa.
Overall Coach Taylor is proud of his players and what they’ve accomplished win or lose.