Floyd County is on the cusp of football season as local teams start gearing up to hit the gridiron.
The Shorter Hawks hit Ben Brady Field for their first practice of the preseason Friday as the team begins to get ready for their season opener against East Tennessee State on Sept. 7 in Johnson City, Tennessee.
The Berry Vikings will soon get their practice sessions underway with players reporting on Tuesday as the team strives for its fourth straight Southern Athletic Association title.
The Vikings will open the 2019 season on the road at Maryville on Sept. 7 at 2 p.m. The Vikings have won four straight contests against the Scots.
Berry will open the 2019 season ranked No. 16 in the D3football.com Preseason Top 25, which was released earlier this week. The Vikings enter this season a year after winning their third straight SAA title and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Division III National Championships for the second year in a row.
The team rose as high as No. 9 in last year's rankings, marking the highest in program history. Center was the only other SAA to make the preseason list, coming in at No. 20. Mary Hardin-Baylor, who knocked Berry out of the playoffs last season and won the national title, are No. 1.
Vikings add new assistant coach
The Vikings will have some new blood on the sidelines this season with the addition of a new wide receivers coach in Daniel Hill, the college announced this week.
Hill comes to Berry from Illinois Wesleyan University where he served as the wide receivers coach for two years. Under his leadership, the 2018 team ranked No. 1 in passing offense in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin and won a pair of conference titles.
“I am really grateful to have this opportunity with Berry football as the team’s wide receivers coach,” Hill said. “Coach (Tony) Kunczewski and his staff have had tremendous success thus far, and I look forward to being a part of the future of the program.”
Shorter get Game of the Week nods
The Shorter Hawks will be part of two Gulf South Conference Games of the Week, the conference announced this week.
Shorter will be featured in Week 2 and Week 4 of the 10-game schedule featured exclusively on ESPN3 and ESPN+ through the ESPN app.
The Hawks will be featured Sept. 14 as they welcome West Florida to Barron Stadium for a 1 p.m. kickoff on ESPN3. Two weeks later, the Hawks will again be at home for a contest against reigning Division II national champion Valdosta State on ESPN+ at 6 p.m.
All nine of the conference’s football schools are featured at least twice in the package, which runs from Sept. 14 through Nov. 16.