By BEN LEDBETTER
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -- Fayetteville State University's football team did not play the 2020 season but the Broncos will soon begin another season in the Down East Viking Football Classic on Saturday, Sept. 4 in Rocky Mount, N.C. against Elizabeth City State University.
Fayetteville State (8-3, 6-1 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association) ended 2019 as the runner-up in the conference's championship game for the third consecutive year. The Broncos won the CIAA Southern Division in 2019 and conference coaches picked Fayetteville State to win the 2021 divisional title.
"These guys have put in so much during training. I have no doubt they're ready to give it all they've got and then some," said Fayetteville State coach Richard Hayes in a statement.
The Broncos also have four players on the Preseason All-CIAA team. Offensive linemen Greg Brooks and Jaylan Galloway Fayetteville State finish second in the conference with 171 pass completions. FSU also finished second with 89 passing first downs and 382 points. Linebacker Nigel Peele finished 2019 with 78 total tackles which were the fourth highest in the conference. This is Peele's fourth season receiving conference honors as he made the all-rookie team in 2017, all-conference honorable mention in 2018 and second team all conference in 2019. Defensive end Keyshawn James finished 2019 with 63 tackles, the team's second-highest. He had 16 tackles for a loss of 111 yards. He also forced four fumbles and blocked one kick. James was also on the 2017 all-rookie team and 2019 all-conference team.
"The atmosphere is just tremendous," Brooks said at a July news conference about the Down East Viking Football Classic. "Next to the CIAA championship, I believe it is the best when you come out and see all the tents, the stadium is filled up, the smoke from the tailgating, it's just a tremendous experience." This will be the third time in the season opener for Brooks. Fayetteville State defeated the Vikings 55-12 in 2019.
The Broncos' first home game is Saturday, Sept. 25 against conference foe Virginia Union and that will be the first time FSU will get to play on the new surface at Luther "Nick" Jeralds Stadium.
"In 2007, Fayetteville State was the first in the CIAA to shift from natural grass," said FSU Athletic director Anthony Bennett in a statement. "We continue to strive for the best for our student-athletes and, right now, AstroTurf is just that. The new field will ensure a safe playing surface as we continue to feature one of the best facilities in the conference."
According to Fayetteville State's sports information office, the new field is AstroTurf's RootZone 3D3 blend system. The new surface will cover 89,000 square feet and be in both endzones. The system has layers of fibers that hold down the infill layer and minimize infill migration. This could
help the safety of student-athletes in games and practices. The stadium's previous surface was installed in 2008.
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