JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Edward Waters football team is ready for the season.
That’s according to head coach Toriano Morgan, who can’t wait to get started.
“The emotions are high. It’s been up and down since everything that’s been going on. To have to actually get back to practice on the field today has been exciting. You can see the energy and the emotions behind them. We’re ready to rock and roll,” Morgan said Thursday night.
The Tigers’ first battle: the Big Cat Classic on Saturday at 6 p.m. hosting Florida Memorial University.
“Two rivals, game one. You can’t ask for anything more,” Morgan said.
Edward Waters lost to Florida Memorial in the 2022 season opener, 39-34. That was the second time both schools competed against one another.
“Since I’ve been here we’ve played Week 0, now we’re at Week 1, so now this team has had an extra week of preparation,” Morgan said. “They’ve got an opportunity to scout their opponent that they’ve seen and confidence has been great. It’s not about who we’re playing, it’s about Edward Waters not beating Edward Waters and I think we’re on that path and we’re good.”
Last season, the Tigers finished the season 5-6 (4-4 conference).
“We can’t start slow,” Morgan said. “The games that we lost, we looked at everything from game to game, we were 13 points away from being 8-2. We can’t start slow. We are not a slow-starting team. The games we started fast, we do really well.”
Coach Morgan expects his team to find more success this year with a veteran group. Many players with a lot of experience have returned to the team.
“When you get a quarterback [senior Jyron Russell] that’s coming back, that solves a lot of problems,” Morgan said. “His leadership, not just because of his production, has taken this team to the next level. On defense these guys understand what it is to actually play good football. We brought in a veteran defensive coordinator and they bought into what he’s doing and we’re good.”
In his third year at the helm of the program, Coach Morgan is also leading his team through the final year of provisional membership in the NCAA Division II.
“The goal is to be in a championship game,” Morgan said. “With that being said we have not set our sights any less than that. The bar is the bar. The standard is the standard and I think that we’re going to reach it.”
The Tigers are selected to finish seventh in the SIAC preseason poll.
“Watching them maturate from the spring to now,” Morgan said. “We got a great opportunity to see this team grow and then now the excitement that you see, they’re ready to play. It’s about now just getting out there and actually putting the X’s and O’s together and playing football.”