Richard Nixon was president the last time the Tennessee Tech football team won an outright Ohio Valley Conference championship (1972). The members of that championship team are now eligible to receive senior citizen discounts at Applebee’s. Some of them have children who have graduated from Tech and now have children themselves. In other words, Tech is due.The Golden Eagles (1-2, 0-0 OVC) begin the OVC portion of their schedule tomorrow as they go on the road to take on the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks (2-1, 1-0 OVC). This will be the last opportunity for the 11 seniors on the Tech roster to win a conference championship.
“If I leave without a ring,” said senior Henry Sailes, “it’ll feel like I’ve not done my job.”
Sailes, who earned SportsCenter’s Top Play the last time Tech played at SEMO, believes the team is well-prepared for this week’s contest.
“I feel confident,” Sailes said. “I feel sure that we’re going to bring home a win.
In their last meeting, the Golden Eagles topped SEMO 28-16 at Tucker Stadium in 2009. Tech has won the last four in a row against the Redhawks and leads the overall series 11-7, dating back to 1991.
“We’re ready to start against them,” said senior Charlie Seivers. “This could be one of the biggest games of the season.
“SEMO has a good team this year. I think we’re ready to go and ready to play them.”
Tech opened the season against Arkansas and TCU who are both ranked in the top ten this week. The Golden Eagles then played a weather-shortened game against Lane College in which Tech won 43-0 in under 25 minutes of play.
“The last three weeks have been ups and downs, but we’re excited to get to the OVC and play against SEMO who’s having a great season so far,” said Seivers.
The 6-foot-3-inch Knoxville native thinks he and the other seniors have laid a good foundation for the future of the program. He also knows that an OVC championship this season is not out of reach.
“We’ve already done a lot around here since I first got here,” he said. “It would be amazing to leave here with a ring.”
Head coach Watson Brown knows his team has a lot of work to do before they can begin thinking about a championship.
“I don’t think we’re as good as we can be right now,” Brown said, “but it’s time for us to jump into the league and go play.
“We’ve got to step up to the plate early, or we can put ourselves in a tough spot.”
After playing two Football Bowl Subdivision teams and having a short week last week, Brown is pleased that Tech does not currently have any major injuries.
“I think we’re pretty healthy, which was a major concern to me going into the season,” he said.
According to Brown, the only injury concern for the Golden Eagles is Caleb Mitchell, who is listed as questionable this week with a groin injury.
“Caleb is the only questionable one we’ve got,” he said, “but he told me [Tuesday] that he thinks he’ll be ready to go.”
“It’s an important game,” Brown said. “We need to go win this first one.”
Kickoff for Saturday’s game is slated for 6 p.m. at Houck Stadium in Cape Girardeau, Mo. The game will be broadcast on the Golden Eagle Sports Network via Magic 98.5 and Free TeamLine. For more information, visit www.TTUSports.com.