Column: A championship mindset required to finish strong

Ricky Henrilus and the Rattlers are one win away from the Celebration Bowl.
Photo submitted by Ryan Marks 

With only one regular season game left, the FAMU football is ina orune position to capture the MEAC title.

The Rattlers are somewhere they haven’t been since 2011. As of right now the Rattlers are tied for first place in the conference with North Carolina A&T with an impressive 5-1 record in league play. 

Under new head coach Willie Simmons the Rattles have made an impressive turn around from last year’s season, going from 3-8 (2-6 MEAC) to 6-4 (5-1 MEAC) this season. 

In an unwanted loss Saturday in the final home game of the2018 season, they were stunned by South Carolina State 44-21 . Fortunately the lose was in no way a threat to the 5-1 record  in conference play. But the Rattlers are going to have to make sure they perform at their best to finish the season 6-1 in conference play against MEAC rival Bethune Cookman. 

Defensive back Orlando McKinley sees a stark contrast between this season and last year.  “Of course winning the MEAC, but no one plays without the ultimate goal of being a champion.”

McKinley added that he feels like people “know what’s about to happen with FAMU and the MEAC under the leadership of coach Simmons.”

Red-shirt sophomore Ricky Henrilus said player morale under Simmons is much better, and the new coach has created an environment that motivates the players to perform at a level and be the best they can be.

“This year we all have the hunger and desire to play to our best capabilities and that’s begins with coach Simmons letting us know he’s only expecting the best out of us at all times,” he said.

Josh Fountain, an avid Rattlers fan, says it’s good to see theteam be competitive once again. “I’ve been coming to every home game since ’98 and I have seen them at their best and at their worst. It’s nothing like the Marching 100 and the football team crushing opponents – it’s a perfect combination.”

The Rattlers have to come out victorious on Saturday as the rivalry continues in the Florid Classic. It will be a weekend where college friends reunite, families come together and fans show out for an O-town Showdown to witness the FAMU Rattlers and B-CU Wildcats battle it out on the gridiron for bragging rights.

But for the Rattlers this is the defining moment of their season as everything they’ve worked for comes down to this moment and making sure they beat B-CU to secure the No. 1 spot in the MEAC. More than 1,800,000 fans have attended the Florida Classic since the first ga in 1978, making it the biggest Black college football game in the country.