Not only is the USC season a week away but so is the season opener for the Benedict Tigers. Benedict will open the year against Livingstone for the annual Palmetto Capital City Classic.
The Tigers have a number of players that have received preseason accolades from the SIAC and the Black College Football Hall of Fame and were picked to finish third in the East Division.
The Tigers are coming off a season where they won five games. The year before in 2015 they went 0-10.
Head Coach Mike White has led the turnaround at Benedict and enters his third year as the head coach. During their media day Coach White and his players said they are thrilled to be a part of this resurgence that could lead to a big year for Benedict Football.
"When you are better than you were before you don't want to use the word that we're ready but I do believe that we're further along than we were before. Last year, two years ago the teams really beat us bad. Last year we came back, made it a defensive battle and won. I know they're really itching to come in here on such a big occasion like the (Palmetto) Classic, come in here and knock us off. But I think we'll be ready. I think both sides of the ball are itching to get out and show that this will be a special year for us," White said.
Offensive lineman and tight end Craig Hinson is looking forward to showing how far this program has come.
"We're ready to showcase our hard work and what we put in this offseason, the techniques we've been working and just fine tuning all the things we've built upon these past two years," Hinson said.
Last year The Tigers eeked out a 5-3 win over Livingstone. The Benedict players are not only excited to play football again, and build off a five win season after going winless in 2015, but they are anxious to show that their defense has improved a lot as well. A lot will be asked of them this season as they will try to match what is expected to be a high powered offense.
"Defensively we had a great game last year and this time you know we're pitching to play the best game we've played thus far," Benedict safety and AC Flora product Edward Kirkland said. He is also on the Black College Football Hall Of Fame Player Of The Year watch list.
"Every game you go into you want to have a better game than you had before so if we held them to three last time then we're going to hold them to zero if possible," Kirkland added.
"We're excited for this game and we're looking forward to this first game but we know we have nine, eight more right after, plus the playoffs, that's what we're aiming for. We're excited to show how hard we've been working but we're also excited for the outcome of this season," Benedict defensive tackle Aaryn Guy said.
The Palmetto Capital City Classic kicks off next Saturday at 5 pm at Charles W Johnson Stadium.