UWA football to face Savannah State in Gulf Coast Challenge
LIVINGSTON, Ala. (WTOK) - Players from the University of West Alabama football team were hopeful they would have a fall season.
After patiently waiting for a decision, one finally came in August from the Gulf South Conference saying football and a handful of other sports would be postponed until at least January.
“It was bothersome because me and my other teammates who are seniors have been working towards this season all these years,” senior offensive tackle Mike Faulkner said. “We had to sit around and watch the FBS level and other teams play, so it hurt that we couldn’t get involved as well.”
When the Tigers found out they would not be playing in the fall, Brett Gilliland said his role shifted from head coach to educator.
“We (coaches) asked ourselves ‘What do we need to convey to them (players) about this virus’ and how can we keep them and their families safe,” Gilliland said. “The biggest thing that was challenged was player’s mental health. They were so used to structure and that was hampered. We tried to keep in constant communication with them through messaging and zoom.”
Coach Gilliland said the Tigers were able to hit the practice field again in the middle of October, but even then players were unsure if they were working towards anything.
That all changed the first week of January.
The team received a group text message saying they would be playing Savannah State in March in the ‘Gulf Coast Challenge’.
“As soon as it (the message) went out, there was excitement across the team,” Coach Gilliland said. “These guys have been embattled with everything so far the last semester, so the news was kind of a release for them. They get some light at the end of the tunnel.”
The matchup is set for Saturday, March 13 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala.
Senior defensive end Undraez Lilly said he was “in a dark place” when he found out the Tigers wouldn’t be playing in the fall. Now that a date has been set, he can’t wait to get to work.
“Having that date and knowing that we for sure are playing a game is exciting,” Lilly said. “We finally have something to work up to. That makes you go harder at practice and really do it.”
For more information on the Tigers’ matchup against Savannah State click here.
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