Last year’s classic defeat still fresh

Florida A&M football players ready themselves for the most anticipated game of the year.

The entire event represents more than just an instate rivalry football game, it represents tradition.

One of the Rattler captains, Anthony Collins, 21, maintains that the Florida Classic is just another game.

“I feel like we have to win to redeem ourselves and show them that what happened last year isn’t happening this year,” Collins said.

Cornerback and kick return specialist Leroy Vann, 22, agreed with Collins and about staying humble throughout the course of this game.

“This game is no different than any other game; it’s just in a different setting,” Vann said, a third year criminal justice student. “The only difference is that this year we are stronger and better. We have a different set of players, we have discipline, and a different set of work ethics.”

While some Rattlers are consumed with redemption, others, like wide receiver Kevin Elliott, 19, from Orlando, is just as eager to be returning home to family, fans and friends.

“Of course, I’m excited. It’s been a tradition to go to the classic with my friends and family. Last year I was just there watching the game, but this year I’ll be actually playing in the game,” Elliott said, a freshman broadcast journalism student.

Sharing Elliott’s excitement is Victoriano Arboleda, 22, a broadcast journalism student from Tampa.

“It’s a very big game because it decides whether we go to the championship. But for me it decides whether I’m going to step off of the field for the last time there as a loser or a champion,” Arboleda said.

Bethune Cookman University and FAMU have each had a tremendous season.

The Wildcats enter the game with an 8-2 record while the Rattlers are currently at 8-3 and hopeful of competing in the MEAC championship.

Vernon Wilder, 22, a physical education senior from Miami, has a levelheaded approach for what could be his last game.

“Of course there is a little pressure, but it’s a game and we’re going to play it just like any other game. We’re told to stay focused and not get too excited because that how a lot of little mistakes are made,” Wilder said.

Collins assures that the team is ready and is bringing an attitude more positive than ever before.

“We have a no-lose attitude, not just because everybody is watching, but because we know that we can do this,” Collins said.

Arboleda said that this game could make or break the team. “Its like a backyard brawl, because this particular game will give us bragging rights. Last year we weren’t in the position that we are in now.  As a senior I want to know that we won and gave it our all.”