NEWPORT NEWS -- With Saturday's 13-10 win over Ferrum, Christopher Newport knows it will be heading to the NCAA Division III playoffs for the sixth time in eight years. And the Captains will be going for the first time as the USA South's outright champion.
The question now becomes, who will be CNU's first-round opponent? And might, by chance, the Captains get another game in POMOCO Stadium?
CNU coach Matt Kelchner will be the first to admit he's biased. But he also feels he has a strong argument.
"We deserve to be home, and the reason is very simple," he said. "Our guys have won eight straight games against good competition. The NCAA says to schedule good non-conference opponents, and when you schedule Wesley, Salisbury and Wilkes they were all dominant three years ago (when we scheduled them).
"I can't help the fact that we had a hurricane come through here and we couldn't play Wesley. We went on the road and beat Wilkes, who is a heck of a football team. And to win this league, to go straight through, we deserve to be home."
"Hey, I know the other teams in this region," he said. "There are a couple of teams I understand being ranked ahead of us in this region. But there's a whole bunch I can't see."
As for who his opening-round opponent might be?
"Maybe there's a natural match-up with us and an ODAC team," he said. "We've always wanted to play those teams."
The Captains will find out today when the field is announced.
Every night before the final home game of the regular season, the CNU seniors address the rest of the team. And what he heard Friday night gave Kelchner every reason to expect what he got on Saturday afternoon.
"I'll tell you what, it got to me last night," he said. "I was thinking, I think these guys will find a way to win this game no matter what. I knew Ferrum would play their tails off, and they did. But after I heard what the seniors had to say last night
winning this is very, very special for me because of those guys."
So what exactly was said? Kelchner declined to reveal it. Defensive end Deshaun Parker was asked what he said, but before he could answer, Kelchner cut him off.
"Don't tell him!" he said. "That's secret stuff."
NICKLE STILL OUT
For the fourth straight game, Christopher Newport was missing starting linebacker Chris Nickle. He came down with a virus the week before the Captains played Methodist on Oct. 25 and hasn't played since.
But Kelchner said he's hopeful Nickle will be able to return to the lineup this week.
"On Tuesday, he's going to see the doctor, and hopefully they'll cut him loose and he'll be able to get back into it," Kelchner said. "He was here on the sideline."
Freshman Mike King had a career-high 15 tackles filling in for him.
Kicker Jay Graham now has 30 field goals in his career. That's seven more than all other place-kickers in the program's eight-year history.
Running back Tunde Ogun finished the regular season with 1,678 yards, and average of 186 per game.