Saint Francis has added a 10th game to its 2012 football schedule for the 15th season in program history and now it includes two firsts – a season-opening game in Texas, as well as the first ever night game at Bishop John M. D'Arcy Stadium on Sept. 22 for Homecoming.
The Cougars will open the season on Aug. 25 at Texas College in Tyler, Texas.
“We needed to find a tenth game and one of our coaches saw on the Internet that Texas College had an opening,” Saint Francis coach Kevin Donley said in a release. “I tried to get them to play here, but they had to have a home game. They told me ‘You get here, we'll play,' so with the generous support of sponsors and our fans, we'll charter a 172-seat plane. The only way we could do this is to fly because we've got to get back and start preparing for our next game.”
There are 80 seats reserved for coaches, players and team personnel and 92 seats available for parents, fans and boosters. It will be a one-day trip departing at 7 a.m. from Fort Wayne International Airport and returning between 8 and 9 p.m. on the same day.
Saint Francis opens training camp on Aug. 5 in preparation for the Cougars' earliest start to the season in the history of the program.
The Cougars will play the first of five home games on Sept. 1 against NCAA Division III-member University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. That game would have matched the Cougars' previous earliest start until the addition of the game at Texas College against the Steers.
The 2012 Saint Francis schedule also includes four games against teams ranked in the final NAIA Football Coaches' Top 25 poll for the 2011 season.
Concordia University will be the Cougars' Homecoming opponent on Sept. 22 for the first-ever home night game. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. Permanent lights will be installed allowing for night use of D'Arcy Stadium.
This will also be the first season Saint Francis has had two open dates in a season. The Cougars will be playing four new opponents in 2012 with the addition of TC. The other first-time opponents include UW-Stevens Point, Siena Heights, and Lindenwood University-Belleville (Ill.).
Saint Francis finished 9-3 in 2011 with the only losses coming to the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 ranked teams in the NAIA Top 25.
The Cougars were ranked No. 6 in the Coaches' Spring Top 25 that was released in late April after ending 2011 with a No. 7 ranking in the post-season Top 25.