JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville University head football coach Ian Shields is excited to announce the Dolphins' 2017 schedule. His second year slate consists of six home games including play against defending Pioneer Football League champion San Diego, and a season-opening road contest at Southern Conference power Mercer.
"This is certainly an exciting time for our program and we are looking forward to the upcoming 2017 season, our 20th year of football at Jacksonville University," said Shields. "I know everyone associated with our program will be excited to have six home games this fall. Our players, fans, families, friends, and alumni will all be able to experience the great game-day experience here at D.B. Milne Field. There's nothing quite like a sunny, warm, Saturday afternoon in the fall here in Jacksonville."
The Dolphins begin their 20th season with a Thursday night matchup against Mercer at Five Star Stadium in Macon, Ga., on August 31. Last season, the Bears went 6-5 overall and 4-4 in conference action. The teams have met once before, in Mercer's brief PFL cameo in 2013, where the Bears won in a wild 45-42 score in Jacksonville.
"It will be a great opportunity, and a tremendous challenge, playing a quality program out of the Southern Conference to open the season. I know our team will be excited to compete in a great game-day environment within our region."
After a week two bye, the Dolphins open their home schedule with Walsh University out of North Canton, Ohio, on Sept. 16.
The following week, JU hits the road to start PFL play at Tenney Stadium in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. with a Sept. 23 contest against Marist. Last fall, the Dolphins closed the season with an exciting, 41-35, victory against the Red Foxes.
The schedule turns fan-friendly with three of the next four games set to take place at D.B. Milne Field. Consecutive contests, against Guilford and Davidson, are scheduled for Sept. 30 and Oct. 7, respectively. The Guilford Quakers, from Greensboro, N.C., will visit the River City for the first time, and Davidson is a PFL matchup where the Dolphins won 35-17 last fall.
"Obviously, we are familiar with the caliber of teams we will be going up against during the conference season in the PFL," Shields added. "We have been working hard throughout the offseason to make sure we're ready to meet those challenges."
The remainder of the schedule is conference play with two familiar schools to JU but new to the coaching staff, in a road game at Butler on Oct. 14 and at home versus San Diego on Oct. 21. Jacksonville last played both schools in 2014.
The Dolphins resume the series against Campbell in the friendly confines of Barker-Lane Stadium on Oct. 28, where Jacksonville picks up on an 8-0 all-time lead against the Camels. Last fall's tilt was canceled due to Hurricane Matthew.
Jacksonville eyes revenge with a Nov. 4 home date against Valparaiso and closes out its home docket on Nov. 11 against in-state foe Stetson. The regular season concludes Nov. 18 at Drake in Des Moines, Iowa.
"I have been encouraged by the group we have coming back and by their efforts this offseason," said Shields. "That being said, our success in this upcoming 2017 season will be largely defined by their commitment to one another between now and when we report to training camp in early August."