UWF Football Scrimmages At Maritime Park
In what was considered a dress rehearsal for both UWF football and their future home, the Argos conducted the third of five scrimmages this season on Saturday.
Saturday was what many call a “Chamber of Commerce” day at the newly named Fetterman Field at Bayfront Stadium. Sunny skies, a bit of breeze and temperatures common to mid-October. The gates opened about 90 minutes before kickoff.
“Because it’s the off-season it’s a chance for us to stay in touch with our staff, kind of keep them into our customer service aspect,” said Donna Kirby, Director of Guest Services and Community Relations.
As far as logistics, one major challenge is fitting the 99 players suiting up for the scrimmage into dressing quarters designed for about 30 baseball players, coaches and managers. And double that next season with the opposing teams.
“It will be doubling up on a lot of things,” said Kirby. “The starting players will have first preference on where they’re going to be keeping their lockers. It will be a little cramped until we get into our routine. We’re working very closely with the UWF staff to figure out ways around that.”
Out on the field, the UWF logo was painted on the 50-yard line. The football field overlay the baseball diamond, with the dirt infield at the southern end. The baseball warning track made up most of the northern end zone – which meant goal line plays and placekicks would be made at the other end. Ray Sayre, the stadium’s award-winning head groundskeeper,
“Once baseball was over this year, knowing this was coming up, we started doing things to help tighten up that turf, and create a more dense, quicker surface for these guys to push each other around on, and hopefully, not cause a lot of damage,” said Sayre.
The Argos hit the field just before 11 o’clock. UWF Blue on the east sideline, nearest the grandstand, UWF White in centerfield. The scrimmage closely resembled an actual game, with four, 15-minute quarters and an officiating crew from the Gulf South Conference was there as well. They met with the captains at mid-field for the coin toss. Joining them was UWF President Judy Bense.
“It’s a beautiful day, we’ve got a great team,” said Bense. “We’ve got a great crowd, we’re on time, we’re on budget, we’re doing well. It’s just right.”
More than 3,100 fans were in the stands for the scrimmage, in which the defenses dominated at first. In the second quarter, the Argo offensive units began to roll – producing a total of 702 yards on the ground and in the air, a couple of big plays, and at one point a battle of field goals. The Blue Team prevailed 26-25 and afterward, Head Coach Pete Shinnick was obviously pleased.
“Really happy with both sides of the ball coming along, and where we’re at,” Shinnick said. “We were able to connect on some big plays, but also do some things, situationally, that worked out well.”
Two scrimmages remain this season, both at University Park Field on campus. Next Saturday’s practice will be a part of the UWF Homecoming celebration. The final scrimmage is set for November 7. Afterward, the coaching staff will evaluate what they saw, hit the recruiting trail and get ready for spring practice 2016 – which begins the inaugural season steering them towards the opener on September 3, against Ave Maria University in Naples.