GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- August 27th, 2016 is a date Davenport athletics has had circled on it's calendar for a long time. That's because on that day, for the first time ever Davenport will play a football game.
"I think the kids are super excited," said head coach Lou Esposito. "I mean, we've had a group of kids that have been here from last year at this time and there's been a group of coaches that have been here a year prior to that."
The inauguration of Davenport football began last year, when the start up program could only practice and scrimmage each other.
"It was just like a red-shirt for everyone here," explained linebacker Brent Showers. "It was a great opportunity to learn the offense, learn the defense and I think that's gonna really help us when we go forward and play games, actually."
"We've done everything possible that you can do leading up until playing a game," said Esposito "The only situation that these guys haven't been through is actual game experience when there's a real live other team hitting against them. Everything else they've done."
As a start up program the Panthers field a team of almost 130 players with no seniors and mostly freshmen or red-shirt freshmen who will see action right away.
"It's gonna be unique. I've never been in a situation like that before where you're gonna play so many young guys with so little experience," says Esposito. "I think we raised our hands in the room the other day, I think we had two guys with college experience. So, it's gonna be exciting, there's gonna be some things that happen that you can't control. I keep telling our guys that you can only control the controllable. We can control our effort, we can control our attitude, we can control knowing what to do and the let the ball fall where it does."
That ball will officially drop against Taylor University at the brand new Farmers Insurance Athletic Complex, one week from this Saturday, but the players need no reminder of that.
"We've counted down since over 100, we've counted down since I got here, we started the countdown," said freshman quarterback Hunter Krause. "We've been waiting and waiting and waiting for this game."