Football in February? Football in February.
The past 12 months in sports have been unprecedented, and NCAA Division I FCS is about to take the unusualness even further with a spring football season, of which Austin Peay State will be a part of.
That’s right; despite a flurry of snow and ice rampaging its way through much of America this week, football is set to begin in Clarksville and the rest of the OVC on Sunday, Feb. 21.
Austin Peay is looking to defend their conference championship, but plenty has happened since they hoisted latest trophy.
Most notably, they’re on their third head coach since the end of the last regular season. After previous head coach Mark Hudspeth suddenly stepped down, defensive assistant Marquase Lovings took over at the helm. However, he and the Govs struggled in their three-game non-conference fall in the season, going 0-3 against Central Arkansas, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. It prompted the program to find a full-time replacement for the interim leader, and in came Scotty Walden.
Along with the head coach, the Governors will be rolling with a new starting quarterback. They started 2019 with Jeremiah Oatsvall under center, but he suffered a leg injury, giving way to JaVaughn Craig. Oatsvall returned for the fall season, but shortly after Walden’s hiring, Oatsvall announced his intention to transfer and is now a wide receiver for the Memphis Tigers.
There is no front-runner for the new starting QB position. The top contenders appear to be returning backup quarterback, junior Kam Williams, who has completed three of his five career attempts for 35 yards, and redshirt senior quarterback Vito Priore, a transfer from Rhode Island who has made 14 starts over the past two seasons.
While there is plenty of unfamiliarity between time of year, day of the week, head coach and starting quarterback, the Governors have plenty of returning stars they can count on to aid in their title defense. They return both the preseason offensive player of the year DeAngelo Wilson and preseason defensive player of the year Kordell Jackson, both of whom had record-setting seasons in 2019. Joining them are all-conference nominees wide receiver Baniko Harley, offensive lineman Blake Mitchell, defensive tackles Josephus Smith and John-Wesley Whiteside and linebacker Jack McDonald.
The Governors will welcome three opponents to Fortera Stadium between February and April, and the university is allowing fans in the stands. Here is the team’s full schedule with home dates in bold. All dates are Sundays except for April 3; the Saturday before Easter.
Feb. 21 at Tennessee Tech, 1 p.m.
Feb. 28 vs. Tennessee State, 2 p.m.
March 14 at Southeast Missouri State, 2 p.m.
March 21 vs. UT Martin, 2 p.m.
March 28 at Jacksonville State, 2 p.m.
April 3 vs. Murray State, 2 p.m.
April 11 at Eastern Illinois, 1 p.m.