Ouachita Baptist University Director of Athletics David Sharp and Head Football Coach Todd Knight announced the upcoming 2011 football schedule on Thursday, March 10.
The Tigers will begin the season on Thursday, Sept. 1, against Lambuth at A.U. Williams Field in Arkadelphia, then will kick off the inaugural Great American Conference (GAC) season by opening with East Central of Ada, Okla., on Saturday, Sept. 10, at home at 6 p.m., before traveling to Monticello to face Arkansas-Monticello on Sept. 17 at 6 p.m.
While many teams will be unfamiliar with the Oklahoma teams from Ada, Weatherford and Alva, the Tigers are quite familiar with all three from their time spent in the Lone Star Conference.
“We were in the Lone Star Conference in 1997-2000, so we already have the natural history with each of the Oklahoma schools,” Ouachita Baptist Head Coach Todd Knight said. “The positives of beginning the GAC schedule will be the reduction of travel, which equates to shorter trips for our program. It allows our players the opportunity to recuperate without long bus rides and the opportunity to play universities in a closer region. The Oklahoma schools come out of the Lone Star North, which historically has been a very tough league. When you put the Lone Star and GSC together, you form a great competitive league. It sets up for a great conference.”
After three weeks of action, Ouachita will have an open week, allowing the Tigers to prepare for 2010 NCAA National Runner-Up Delta State on Oct. 1 in Cleveland, Miss. A week later, the team will return to Arkadelphia to face Valdosta State, as the Blazers visit A.U. Williams Field on Oct. 8 at 1 p.m.
“The good thing about the off week is that it gives us a mental and physical break,” Knight said. “It helps us prepare for a tough opponent in Delta State and allows our team to rest after seven weeks of practice, August camp and the first three games.”
The first of two trips to Oklahoma will be to face Southwestern Oklahoma State in Weatherford, Okla. on Oct. 15, followed by a home matchup against Southern Arkansas on Oct. 22 at 1 p.m.
For the final three games of the season, Ouachita will be on the road for back-to-back dates against Harding in Searcy on Oct. 29 at 2 p.m., while the Tigers will visit Southeastern Oklahoma State in Durant, Okla. on Nov. 5 at 2:30 p.m.
Senior Day at A.U. Williams Field will conclude the 2011 regular season for Ouachita, as the Tigers face Henderson State in the Battle of the Ravine series on Nov. 12 at 1 p.m.
Ouachita will return seven all-conference performers from a season ago, including five on the offensive side. The Tigers have the highest winning percentage in the state of Arkansas among all football playing institutions from 2008-2010 with a 63.3 winning percentage. Ouachita also is the only school in the state with three straight winning seasons. Among the accolades during the three-year span, Ouachita had the highest number of all-conference players among Arkansas Division II schools with 25.
Currently, Ouachita is completing the spring football period. Among the unit are eight starters returning on offense and seven starters returning on defense.
“We’re at the mid-point of the semester and our players have worked hard to keep our focus on spring football,” Knight said. “The spring has been productive with breaking in several new positions and adjusting what we do to make our scheme fit our players. We’re excited about the players and the GAC race ahead.”
On Saturday, March 12, the Tigers will participate in the annual Tiger Football Spring Scrimmage at A.U. Williams Field beginning at 9:30 a.m., and the situational scrimmage will conclude around 11:30 a.m.
The Tigers will use a points system in separating players into two teams for competition. Admission will be free for all fans in attendance, and the football program will provide an optional full meal for $5 each for anyone who would like to eat with the team.
Also being held on campus will be a two-day football officials tryout clinic by the Great American Conference with GAC Head of Officials Jeff Roberson. Part of the clinic will be a film session on campus Friday and a minimum of 20 snaps of game experience during the spring game on Saturday.
By Alan Greenwood, OBU Sports Information Director