After his team recorded the school’s best record in almost 40 years last season, West Virginia State head football coach Earl Monroe expected some pleasant surprises this season. One of those surprises, however, was an unexpected one.
After his team recorded the school’s best record in almost 40 years last season, West Virginia State head football coach Earl Monroe expected some pleasant surprises this season.
One of those surprises, however, was an unexpected one — a trip to Chicago to play at Soldier Field in the Chicago Football Classic.
“When we found out that we were playing a game at Soldier Field, it was like getting an early Christmas gift,” Monroe said.
“Soldier Field is one of the great sports venues in the country. It’s where people like Dick Butkus and Walter Payton ran and roamed. It’s where the famous fight between Gene Tunney and Jack Dempsey took place.
“Now, we are going to be there.”
A small Historically Black College in tiny Institute, W. Va., the Yellow Jackets play their home games in Lakin Field, which seats just a little more than 3,000.
Now, the Yellow Jackets will be playing in the giant lakefront stadium where a crowd of more than 40,000 is expected to be on hand.
“Our players and alumni are excited about the game,” Monroe added. “Hopefully we can take advantage of it and get some support from this, maybe more people will buy tickets and come see us play at Soldier Field.”
West Virginia State finished 7-4 overall and 5-3 in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference last season in Monroe’s third season as head coach. This season, things look even better behind junior quarterback Kevin O’Brien, who threw for 2,245 yards in 2007. Also returning will be running back Brian Mitchell, who rushed for 985 yards while linebackers Andrew Eggleton and William Jackson pace the Yellow Jackets 3-4 defense.
“Last year, we were very successful,” Monroe stated. "This year, we expect even more from our players.”
Fans can get a quick preview of the halftime Battle of the Bands at the Chicago Football Classic when the Central State band, the “Invincible Marching Marauders” take part in the 79th annual Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic Saturday.
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