CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – For the first time since the late fall of 2019, NCAA D-II football will be played in a normal capacity on Thursday.
The 2020 fall season was canceled due to COVID-19, and while the Mountain East Conference attempted a spring season earlier this year, multiple teams played just two games or fewer.
Beginning Thursday, Division-II football returns to the gridiron in the fall.
Two local teams will be in action on Thursday, as Fairmont State opens up the season at home and West Virginia Wesleyan starts its season on the road.
Fairmont State will host the University of California (PA) at 7 o’clock at Duvall-Rosier Field. It will be the Fighting Falcons first game since Nov. 14, 2019. That, too, was a Thursday night home game, which they won easily over West Virginia Wesleyan.
Fairmont State finished the 2019 season with just a 5-5 record. The Vulcans, meanwhile, went 7-4 in 2019.
This year’s Wesleyan Bobcats team, meanwhile, also opens up the new season on Thursday.
It’ll be a much stiffer opponent to being the 2021 campaign for the Bobcats, which open up the year on the road in Des Moines, Iowa against the Division-I Drake Bulldogs.
Drake is an FCS program, playing in the Pioneer Football League. The Bulldogs went 2-3 in a reduced 2020-21 schedule, including going 0-3 at home. Drake, meanwhile, played to a 6-5 record in 2019.
West Virginia Wesleyan went 0-2 during the MEC’s shortened spring season, and played to just a 1-10 record in 2019. The Bobcats also made a coaching change during the offseason, naming Dwayne Martin their head coach in July.
Three other MEC teams begin their seasons on Thursday, with three other conference members playing their first games on Saturday.
That’s when Alderson Broaddus will begin its season, as the Battlers travel to Erie, PA to take on Mercyhurst at 6 p.m. Both teams went winless during an abbreviated spring season, so both teams will be looking for their first wins on the gridiron since 2019.
AB head coach, Travis Everhart, will also be searching for his first head coaching win with the Battlers. He was named head coach in January of 2020, but has yet to coach a true regular season game with Alderson Broaddus due to the pandemic.
Glenville State will wait until Sept. 9 to play its first game, as the Pioneers will host Concord on a Thursday night in ‘GlenVegas’.