PEMBROKE — With everything surrounding today’s home game for The University of North Carolina at Pembroke football team, just being at home practicing and playing a game is the most welcoming for head coach Shane Richardson.
“It’s fun to come back home and have a comfort zone and a schedule of normalcy,” he said.
Saturday’s home contest against Catawba (3-4) will be homecoming for the 20th-ranked Braves (6-1) and comes after nearly a month since its last game at Grace P. Johnson Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.
The last time the Indians came to Pembroke, they handed the program its only homecoming loss in the nine previous seasons. To add onto the loss two season ago, Catawba defeated UNCP 39-21 on the road last season, but taking care of business for homecoming is the top concern for the Braves.
“We really try to tell them that homecoming doesn’t mean anything if the football team doesn’t win the game,” Richardson said. “I think they know how important this game is and really every game from here on out on the schedule.
“We know they’re dangerous and I think that our guys are hungry enough right now that we know what’s at stake and we’re ready to get back to do our best on the field and we want it to be against Catawba this week.”
After practice at Wingate University from Wednesday to Friday last week and playing its scheduled home game last Saturday at Scotland High School, this week has been a return to normalcy for the Braves starting with practice.
“Wingate University was very gracious to us last week and we had to relocate to Monroe,” Richardson said. “We were just out of sync and had to adjust and over come in a new environment and it’s been fun to be able to get back to what we know in our comfort zone.”
Against Kentucky Wesleyan, the Braves’ secondary gave up several big plays passing that led to the three touchdowns in the game. For the young defensive backfield that starts just one senior, Richardson is making sure that issue won’t arise against Catawba by continuing to coach the younger guys.
Catawba comes in averaging 180 yards passing per game and will be the fifth team in a row that will look for significant yardage through the air after three ground-and-pound teams to start the year.
“I think we’ve just got to work technique and repetition in practice,” Richardson said. “I think that continuing to work with them is a big part of it. Continue to work with them and show them the mistakes on film and get them in the situations so that they can fail so they can come back and be even better the next time.”
Coming off a 205-yard receiving game last week, senior wideout B.J. Bunn and senior quarterback Patrick O’Brien will look to take advantage of the Catawba defense that has allowed on average 193 yard per game through the air against its opponents.
Contact Jonathan Bym on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.