Even as opponents drop out, EWC has hopes set on playing football this season

EWC will start having athletes return to campus on August 3rd where there will be daily screening and student-athletes will work out in small groups with increased social distancing.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – When the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference decided to not play football this fall, it put Edward Waters College in a strange position.

The Tigers are not a member of the SIAC but the majority of their football schedule was filled with schools from the conference.

Edward Waters College athletic director Paul Bryant says Edward Waters still plans to play football this fall and that the program is in the process of trying to salvage a schedule. Six SIAC opponents were on EWC’s schedule. Morehouse, EWC’s Week 1 opponent, also announced it wouldn’t play a fall sports season.

“We know we can start play on the 12th of September … and even if we have to start in October we have looked at that as well,” Bryant said on Friday.

Bryant did not set a timeline for the announcement of EWC’s new football schedule. He said it is a fluid situation but the Tigers’ first game could be played as early as Sept. 19.

The Tigers athletic department had a big fall scheduled planned before COVID-19. EWC is set to debut a new football stadium this year and this will be the first season for the soccer program.

Bryant says something will be different under the pandemic conditions, but they still hope to welcome fans to their new home football field in 2020.

“We are the only football college show in town and we want to be able to open that up and dedicate the stadium,” Bryant said.

“If we have to limit our fans, we know our stands will fit about 3,000 people. We know we will lower that to about 1,000 so we can do social distancing and measure out the whole stadium.”

As other college conferences cancel their football seasons, Bryant says he has been reaching out to other schools to see if they are still interested in playing football this season and is looking at it as an opportunity to schedule some games that he may be difficult to schedule otherwise.

“For me, I look at it as an opportunity to get some of those guys on the schedule and see how we match up,” he said. “I won’t say which school, but we are courting a few of those. I think we can put together a quality schedule.”

The Tigers athletic department is preparing for the return of all of their fall athletes. EWC has already begun to order masks for many of its athletes.

“We have already placed an order for the facemasks for the helmets and we are going to get a Nike breathable mask for our other athletes,” Bryant said.

The Tigers currently have 152 players on their football roster and have ordered 175 Schutt splash shields for the football team.

Purchasing the additional clean materials for athletic equipment and masks for players and coaches is not cheap but Bryant said EWC is committed to doing whatever it takes to keep student-athletes say.

“The cost has been a lot but there is no cost that is insurmountable for safety,” he said.

About the Author:

Jamal St. Cyr is an award-winning sports anchor who joined the News4Jax sports team in 2019.