UWF football has eyes set for first round of playoffs against Wingate University
by Christian Skewes
Saturday, November 23 the no. 15 West Florida Argos will face off against the no. 16 Wingate Bulldogs in Wingate, North Carolina. This game marks the first round of the Division II playoffs and the second time these two squads have faced each other.
The first matchup was two years ago in the first round of the playoffs during the 2017 dream season (which led UWF to the Division II championship game against Texas A&M-Commerce). Ultimately, the Argos won the match up against the Bulldogs in a 31-0 blowout.
Now on the second time around, the Bulldogs are looking for revenge.
“Wingate is an extremely well coached team,” redshirt senior linebacker Chris Sakamoto said. “We have to make sure we take care of our assignments and do our job as a whole in order to have success.”
Wingate University (10-1 SAC 7-1) is one of the best offensive units in the South Atlantic Conference, averaging 35 points and 199.2 rushing yards a game. They run a spread offensive scheme but in the past have thrown in a few pro style formations in the red zone.
Notorious for their long yardage passing game, UWF (8-2 GSC 7-1) will have their hands full trying to stop the Bulldog offense.
“To win this week on defense we have to win on first down,” Sakamoto said. “We have to limit explosive plays and find success in the red zone.
Sakamoto continued, “We have to be able to shut them down and get them off the field on third down. And I think we’re mentally and physically ready to do so.”
On the other side of the ball, the West Florida offense will be facing a stout battle-tested Bulldog defense. For the 2019 season, Wingate has allowed only 8 rushing touchdowns and 3.2 rushing yards per carry.
Allowing 20.5 points a game and winning most competitions by a score of 15 plus points, UWF will have to play it’s best game yet if they want to come out victorious.
However, the Bulldogs have struggled with stopping the passing game in the past. Against the Carson-Newman Eagles and Newberry College, Wingate gave up 265 and 299 yards through the air.
If the Argos can manage to open up the air attack early in the game and mix in run/draw plays strategically, UWF has the ability to come away with a victory in the first round of post season play.
Road games are nothing new for the West Florida football team (half of the regular season match ups were away games). According to Sakamoto, the team treats these games as if they were home games. Unbothered by the new atmosphere or people they’re playing in front of.
“I believe we have a focused group of men that can get the job done,” Sakamoto said. “It’s just business as usual for us; our coach always tells us that our best is good enough.”
Kick off against the Bulldogs starts at 1 p.m. Saturday at Irwin Belk Stadium in Wingate, North Carolina.
Photo courtesy of Morgan Givens.