UWF football team talks national championship days before College Football Semifinals
PENSACOLA, Fla. (WEAR) —
University of West Florida football is being recognized across the nation, after reaching the NCAA Division II college football semifinals in only its second year of existence.
UWF Coach Pete Shinnick is now named the American Football Coaches Association Region II Coach of the Year, after leading the Argos to a 10-3 record and into the Division II semifinals.
"I've got a great coaching staff that does a fantastic job and I have great players without those things this award doesn't happen," said Shinnick.
Shinnick said leading the Argos into the semifinals is bringing a lot of attention to the University of West Florida.
He said the football team's accomplishments add to the positive culture that can already be seen across campus.
"You know when we won Saturday we knew we were going someplace," said Shinnick.
"Bringing the championship home to Pensacola is something I don't think they've had in a long time," said UWF junior Joshua Darnes.
"I know a few football players and it is exciting. So just seeing their reaction and how excited they are is really cool," explained UWF sophomore Adrian Acevedo.
The Argos play their home games in the Wahoos Stadium, downtown. An on campus stadium is part of the long-term plan, but UWF President Martha Saunders said while a stadium is still being discussed, community support is at the forefront of discussions.
"Our big focus this year in the short run is building a fan base. It's real important to get people that want to come to the games but I think we will begin to have more serious conversations after the first of the year," said Saunders.
"We love being downtown and the decision on the stadium is way above my pay grade," Shinnick said.
"I definitely think it would be cool to have UWF football stadium on campus even though the downtown stadium is really beautiful as well," added Acevedo.
"You hope that sometime they will have a stadium because it will bring a lot more students to the game and the city will come out, so I know they will come out and I know they'll support the team," Darnes said.
The Argos play top-ranked Indiana University-Pennsylvania in Indiana, Pennsylvania Saturday. Temperatures are expected to be in the 20s at game time. Shinnick, looking ahead, purchased winter gear, a year ago, in anticipation of playing this kind of game.
Coach Shinnick said being prepared is key and he hopes to continue the momentum with his team on Saturday.
"I think great team effort, guys believing, guys continuing to trust the system, trust the process and really believing in each other. They know that if they play their best they can be in any game and we've been telling them their best is good enough, just have to go out and play at a high level," mentioned Shinnick.
Shinnick said he looks forward to a bright future with his team as they leave Pensacola Friday headed to Pennsylvania, where they hope to earn a spot in the national championship game.