JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – When it was announced that Carson-Newman had earned the second seed in Super Region II, a chorus of cheers reigned down from a meeting room where C-N’s football players had gathered to watch the NCAA’s selection show.
Carson-Newman concluded the regular season on a six-game winning streak to make its 13thappearance in the NCAA playoffs and its 23rd NAIA or NCAA postseason appearance under head coach Ken Sparks.
The Eagles concluded the regular season 8-2 following a 35-17 win over Mars Hill, knocking the Lions out of the playoff picture.
“Anything you could think about, I thought about,” C-N defensive lineman Zack Fleming (Kingsport, Tenn.) said. “My main thought was the first round bye, but I was prepared for anything.
“I think of Monty Python’s Holy Grail where there’s a scene where they’re singing, ‘Bring out your dead.’ They come throw people on the cart and one person’s like, ‘But I’m not dead.’ I feel like that because I feel like we’re so beat up. I just keep thinking of that scene because they have so many people piled up. That bye week helps so much to lower the amount of dead, quote, that we have.”
The Eagles will face the winner of the Fort Valley State – Lenoir-Rhyne game Nov. 24 at noon at Burke-Tarr Stadium.
“It’s still not great to see L-R or Fort Valley State sitting directly behind us,” Eagle quarterback Brandon Haywood (Rockmart, Ga.) said. “Those are two both great teams. But we’ve got two weeks of preparation for either or and I hope we take advantage of that.”
Carson-Newman defeated Lenoir-Rhyne 47-23 in the second week of the season.
The Eagles last made the playoffs in 2009 when Carson-Newman advanced all the way to the semifinals before losing to no. 3 Grand Valley State 41-27.
Ken Sparks has led the Eagles to three NCAA title games and six NAIA championship berths. The Eagles first chance at a national crown came when Dal Shealy led the Eagles to the tite game in 1972. Sparks has collected five national championships in his 33-year career – with each one coming in the 1980s.
The NCAA Division II National Championship game will take place on Saturday, December 15, 2012, at Braly Municipal Stadium in Florence, Ala.
For ticket information, call 865-471-3396.
2012 NCAA Division II Football Playoffs
Super Region No. 2
FIRST ROUND - Saturday, November 17, 2012
No. 6 Fort Valley State (8-3) at No. 3 Lenoir-Rhyne (8-2), Noon
No. 5 Miles (8-2) at No. 4 West Alabama (8-3), 1 p.m.
SECOND ROUND - Saturday, November 24, 2012
No. 6 Fort Valley State/No. 3 Lenoir-Rhyne winner at No. 2 Carson-Newman (8-2), Noon
No. 5 Miles/No. 4 West Alabama winner at No. 1 Valdosta State (8-2), Noon