Fan interest high, stakes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 1, 1999

even higher in Sat. game

By Steven G. Watson

Sports Editor

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The citizens of Troy had better be ready because they will be invaded by somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000 snake worshipers Saturday.

No, it’s not a sign of the apocalypse; the Florida A&M Rattlers are coming to town to do battle with the Troy State Trojans in the second round of the Division I-AA playoffs and officials are expected around that number of screaming FAMU fans to fill the stands at Memorial Stadium.

The game is a rematch from last year’s first-round matchup the Rattlers won 27-17 between the two teams, but this year the stakes have gone up dramatically and with them, so has interest in the game.

TSU Sports Information director Jim Horton says that this could be one of the biggest games in Trojan Football history. All the potential is there with the winner becoming the odds-on favorite to win out through the bracket and play for a national championship in Chattanooga, Tenn.

"I’m excited because it has the potential to be a real electric atmosphere which is really what these games are all about," Horton said. "The fact we have a history with Florida A&M in the playoffs should make this game one of the best in the history of Memorial Stadium. From my standpoint this will be the biggest media-covered event I’ve been in charge of.

"I think this is one of the exciting parts of Division I-AA football and is a chance for fans to see what post season play is all about," he added. "It’s why I’m here and one of the reason I took this job."

On the flip side the Rattlers are just as happy about the game being in Troy as Horton and the rest of the TSU followers are. Tallahassee is not very far and the trip over will not hinder fans from coming to watch their team play.

Florida A&M SID Alvin Hollins said that tickets sales were going very well and from the allotment that was given to them they had only 700 tickets left as of this afternoon which were all general admission. The reserved seats that they received were sold out by 10 a.m.

"There should be a very strong FAMU presence in Troy Saturday," Hollins said. "Our fans really support Florida A&M period, whatever they play, but football is the staple of our athletic program.

"Needless to say the success has been a factor," he continued. "Winning has helped and we have a chance to play for a national championship. Our fans couldn’t ask for anything better."

Hollins says that the famous FAMU band will be in full force, all 350 strong. There has even been some who have called his office asking if the band would show up for the contest.

"The fact the band is coming will help tremendously," Hollins said. "We couldn’t take them to Appalachian State and the team really missed their support. We’ve had people calling all week asking if they are coming and since it is only a little over two hours it is very easy to do.

The Rattler fans and band are infamous for the support they show their football team and will be very loud and very excited. The thing that many also remember about playing FAMU however is something you don’t always associate with college football fans ­ hospitality.

They pride themselves in socializing with other Florida A&M fans and opponents and should be a joy to have tailgating in Troy on Saturday.

"The game, we want to win, but the socializing is the main backdrop for our fans," Hollins said. "We enjoy the opportunity to deal with people we haven’t fellowshiped with before. That’s the way it really should be. It’s all in fun and our fans are simply in it for the fun."

Something we in Troy shouldn’t have any problem with.