By Jordan Boitnott, Kelcey Norris
Youngstown State University football fans — there’s light at the end of the tunnel. The Penguins might be back to play in Stambaugh Stadium sooner rather than later. The Missouri Valley Football Conference has announced the 2021 spring football season, beginning in February.
YSU Head Coach, Doug Phillips, said even with extra time to prepare, getting the team ready is going to be extremely difficult.
“They haven’t played football, we are in day six and you can see our young men haven’t played in over a year. You play more than five plays and you see the fatigue,” he said. “Not playing football isn’t a good thing. We have to be ready to play a national championship team game one with no lead up games. Everything we do right now is to be better than yesterday, and everything we do today is to be better than yesterday. Everything we do Thursday will be to be better than we are today, leading us into camp in January.”
YSU is scheduled to play eight games, four at home and four away, against the teams they’d initially been scheduled to play against. The team will travel to North Dakota State University Feb. 21.
The Bisons make a beast of a first opponent; they ranked first in the MVFC last year, with a 16-0 record overall, 8-0 in the conference.
March 6, the Guins return home to take on Southern Illinois, beginning a back-to-back Saturday schedule. The university has yet to announce any safety protocols for fans in the stands, like social distancing or decreased maximum capacity.
March 13, one week later, they’ll hit the road again to take on South Dakota State. Then the team will compete in two home games in a row: March 20 against Indiana State and March 27 against the Northern Iowa Panthers.
As April showers pour, Youngstown will take a trip to Western Illinois April 3. Then they’re scheduled to be back at Stambaugh April 10 to compete against North Dakota. Finally, to wrap up the regular fall season, YSU travels to Missouri State to play April 17.
Coach Phillips said every game is going to matter even more this season due to the reduced size of the playoff bracket.
“They are going to cut teams down [for the playoffs]. It’s only going to be a 16 team playoff. They are taking it from 24 to 16. League champions will have an automatic birth so you aren’t going to see a lot of teams with that opportunity. Every game matters even more,” he said.
Tune in to JambarTV this week for more on the spring season. Jambar sports reporter Kyle Wills gets the fans’ reactions and expectations for this upcoming season.