TAHLEQUAH — All the anticipation is over. Finally, at long last, Northeastern State’s football season is set to commence against Pittsburg State tonight at Doc Wadley Stadium.
“We’re been tired of waiting,” said NSU quarterback Johnny Deaton, whose team will kick off at 6 p.m. against the reigning Division II national champions.
“We’re already ready. The game plan is in, so we’re just ready for Thursday.”
The 2012 season opener for NSU will mark the RiverHawks’ first-ever game in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association, after playing as an independent last year. It’ll also mark the first time NSU and Pitt State have clashed since 1987.
Battling for the same recruits year in and year out, finally the RiverHawks and Gorillas will settle the score on the field — rather than on signing day.
“A lot of the guys playing for them and a lot of the new guys for them, we’ve been involved with,” NSU head coach Kenny Evans said. “So we know they have a lot of talent.”
The consensus on both sides of the NSU-Pitt State matchup is that it makes too much sense not to play each other. After all, the schools are within a three-hour radius of one another.
But as Pitt State head coach Tim Beck points out, scheduling isn’t always easy in Division II football.
“The two schools are close enough that we should have been playing more often than we have,” he said. “We ought to be playing each other. But sometimes the schedules just don’t work out.”
The Gorillas currently own a slim advantage in the all-time series, owning a 13-12-2 mark. And if NSU is to even it up, it’ll lean heavily on sophomore quarterback Johnny Deaton.
Fortunately for the RiverHawks, Deaton is finally healthy after laboring through pain in 2011.