JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Fresh off a five-game road trip that ended with the thumping of Davidson, Jacksonville University turns its attention to coming home for Senior Day this week at D. B. Milne Field.
The Dolphins (8-2, 6-1 in the Pioneer Football League) sit atop the PFL standings with San Diego as Campbell comes calling at 1 p.m. Saturday.
"It is an emotional day,'' coach Kerwin Bell said Monday. "We try to make it special. I like for the younger kids to hear from the seniors about their experiences being here and what it means to come down to your last game.''
Sixteen seniors will be honored before the game for their contributions and before that, throughout the week, they will take center stage with the team.
"I think it helps the seniors to say things they want to say and I think it helps the young kids say 'hey, there isn't a lot of time','' Bell said. "Most of the time you hear the seniors say it has gone by in a hurry and you've got to treasure every game, go to every class and make sure you get your degree. We've got some really positive messages we'll hear this week and I get every senior to say something after each practice this week and it will be emotional.''
Thursday, the team has a bit of a senior walk through "where we shake their hands and hug them,'' Bell said. "We try to take them out on a high note … it's going to be a great game. Not only are you playing for a championship at home, you're playing for your seniors and the fans and families. It will be a great day to wrap up the season.''
The festivities make it a little tough to keep the team focused but Bell's strategy is to keep the players loose.
"We'll try to keep them loose though,'' he said. "I think we're much better when we play free and loose. We did that last week and hopefully we'll do it again this week.''
The Dolphins beat Davidson 56-0 and will have their hands full with the Camels.
"They are a very athletic team,'' Bell said. "They may be one of the most athletic teams in our conference and they do some good things. When they are on offense, you've got to line up on them properly so our defense has got to make sure we know exactly when there is an overload or any situation like that.
"Defensively, again, they are very athletic. They'll play some man and challenge you and they aren't afraid to walk up and challenge in both the run and pass game. It's a challenge for us to see if we can put together two great games like we have the last couple of weeks.''
The game also will mark the first time a JU jersey has ever been retired as the team will honor the memory of the late Rico Tillman by putting to rest his number 8 in a halftime ceremony. Tillman was the first player ever to score a touchdown for the school.