DETROIT (WWJ) – The Wayne State Warriors are getting ready for the biggest game of their football season.
As WWJ’s Sandra McNeill reports, when the players take the field against Pittsburgh State on Saturday, there will be more than just the school’s first-ever championship on their minds and in their hearts.
Wayne State started the year with an unthinkable tragedy, trying to overcome the loss of junior quarterback Courtney “Cortez” Smith who was murdered in May.
Coach Paul Winters admits that Smith has been a rallying point for the team.
“The number 3 is on everything. We’re always thinking about Cortez and I think it’s very important for all of our guys that we perform for him because he’s not here to perform with us,” said Winters.
The Warriors have taken the football world by surprise but not Winters, who said he knew at the beginning of the season the team had something special.
“They’re resilient. They don’t really let anything affect them. They just go out and compete and expect to perform,” said Winters.
The Warriors are preparing for their first ever national championship bid with two days of practice at Ford Field.
Defensive Back Jeremy Jones said he doesn’t mind the long season either.
“Actually, it’s just been so much fun it’s a blessing to be able to play 16 games. Some people don’t even get a chance to see that in their whole career so I’m not going to complain about it,” said Jones.
Jones admits he feels somewhat like a celebrity on campus these days.
“You feel it sometimes but you’ve got to take it with a grain of salt because you know where you were before. But you know, winning always brings fans in and I’m not going to knock that because when you win, you want fans,” said Jones.
Running back Toney Davis said the team is holding up well, despite the long season.
“It’s the most time anybody has played football ever, even if you play at Wayne State or high school, it’s almost Christmas time and we’re still playing football. It’s a dream come true, just playing the sport we love, it’s like it’s never going to end,” said Davis.
The Warriors take on Pittsburgh State in Alabama on Saturday.