Today is Senior Day at Jerry Richardson Stadium as the Charlotte 49ers play their final home game of the season against the Wolverines of Wesley. And as we bid the home season farewell, we also say goodbye to a group of seniors (and two grad students) whose time in green and white was short, but memorable and historic.
No one, absolutely no one, will forget Mark Hogan’s pick six on the second play of Campbell’s opening drive on August 31. The opening drive. On the second play. In the first game. If you predicted that before the game, you’re pretty good.
Let’s not forget the other five. Mikel Hunter has done great things over the past couple of months. Alex Petzke and Zeb Little walked on and saw their dreams of playing Division I college football come true. Brandon Strupp will yield to a new punter in 2014. And who can’t help but remember C.J. Crawford and his role in “The Comeback” against Gardner-Webb?
They won’t be around in 2015 when the Niners step up to FBS. Other players will be wearing the numbers 9, 12, 18, 31, 33, 38 for years to come. But the first young men who wore those numbers–Hogan, Crawford, Hunter, Petzke, Strupp, Little–will have laid the groundwork.
This group of six players may forget a lot about their college careers. But they’ll remember the coaching staff offering them the chance to make history. They’ll remember watching the stadium, and the field house, take shape. They’ll remember the first spring game, when Niner fans packed Jerry Richardson Stadium before the team had even taken an official snap. They’ll remember running out of the tunnel for the first time to a standing room only crowd at The Rich on August 31, 2013. They’ll remember Gardner-Webb.
They’ll also remember the sting of losing. N.C. Central. James Madison. Pembroke. Charleston Southern. Coastal Carolina. With two games left including today, hopefully the list ends there.
They’ll remember the practices. Hot summer days. Cool mornings. Coaches yelling, shouting, lecturing, prodding, teaching–and leading.
Most of all, they’ll remember Niner Nation cheering them on each and every week in late summer and early fall. And while their football careers might be over, they’ll be moving on to the next stage.
And Niner Nation will be cheering them on even then.