JMU Seniors Looking for Championship Finale
The James Madison football team will play Youngstown State in the FCS finals on Saturday, and the Dukes' seniors are looking to end their careers with a national championship.
FRISCO, Tx (WVIR) - The James Madison football team will play Youngstown State in the FCS finals on Saturday, and the Dukes' seniors are looking to end their careers with a national championship.
"It'd mean everything," says senior linebacker Gage Steele. "It's something that every player dreams about, getting to that national level and saying you're the best at that division. As a senior, being my last year, and everything we've gone through as a team, it's truly an awesome story."
Steele leads the Dukes with 98 total tackles this season.
JMU head coach Mike Houston sees a lot of similarities between his team and the Penguins.
"You have a complete team that's going to play the same brand of ball that we try to play," says Houston. "I think you'll have a very physical football game. One that's going to have a lot of intensity, and a lot of emotion. It's probably going to go down to the last drive or two to determine who wins."
YSU head coach Bo Pellini says, "We have a plan. We need to execute at a high level. We need to play disciplined football. We need to take care of the ball, and hopefully win the turnover battle."
JMU senior running back Khalid Abdullah says, "They have a lot of guys that make plays, and a lot of guys that do things well around the ball. We're definitely going to have to be on our 'A Game.' They're a formidable opponent, and we're going to have to go out there and execute the way we've been able to execute in these past games."
"We have to play our game," adds junior offensive lineman Aaron Stinnie. "Just do what we've been doing all year long. Trying not to play into the hype and change anything. We just want to keep to ourselves and do what we do. I think if we do that, we'll have a good chance of winning the game."
The Dukes are averaging 285 rushing yards per game this year.
Abdullah ran for 180 yards in JMU's upset against five-time defending national champion North Dakota State in the FCS semifinals.
"It's my last game, I don't have anything to lose," says the senior. "I'm definitely gonna push all my chips in and go out there and do everything I can do to help the team win."
JMU won its first and only national championship in 2004.
James Madison and Youngstown State will play for the title on Saturday at noon in Frisco, Texas.