Mountaineers ready to hit the field
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
The No. 7 Mountaineers face No. 16 Illinois State in the second round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs at 2 p.m. Saturday. While teams closed out their regular seasons, and then played the first round of the playoffs the following week, Appalachian State was taking it all in, waiting for this weekend.
“We’re like everybody else. We’re excited to be in the playoffs,” Mountaineers coach Jerry Moore said. “We’ve had a tough conference schedule and now we’re looking at a whole scenario with all of us trying to win a national championship.”
The Mountaineers were able to go home for the Thanksgiving holiday for one final rest before practice started Monday. Appalachian State running back Steven Miller said the Mountaineers are taking Illinois State very seriously.
“We’ve been practicing very hard the last couple of days,” Miller said. “We have the confidence to go in and win these games. We know these guys are going to come in here and not going to mess around. They have not been here since 2006, but we’ve been working hard and are ready.”
Miller said the time off helped heal some “bumps and bruises,” but he refused to say that nagging injuries would keep the Mountaineers from playing their best on Saturday.
“It helped us a little bit, but we don’t like to make excuses,” Miller said. “Regardless of how banged up we are, we have to come out and play our game.”
Illinois State invades a Kidd Brewer Stadium that averaged 27,964 fans per game. The largest crowd Illinois State played in front of was 16,033 in a 23-3 win at Western Illinois.
“It’s a huge advantage,” Miller said. “We feed off the crowd. They’ll help us when it gets rough. We’ve been beat at home before, so we can’t take that for granted. We have to play our game and hopefully things go as we hope they do.”