North Carolina A&T and North Carolina Central will meet for bragging rights and more in Charlotte at the Duke’s Mayo Classic.
For North Carolina A&T, they will be looking to bounce back from an uncharacteristic season in which it did not qualify for a postseason berth or even register a winning record at home.
The Aggies enter 2022 with renewed expectations that the program can return to the consistent form displayed for so long in the MEAC.
In its second and last season in the Big South before heading to the Colonial Athletic Conference, the Aggies were picked to win the league.
Head coach Sam Washington is confident his bunch has turned the corner from a disappointing 2021 and will perform with the same edge it has in previous seasons.
“Well, we’re in a much better place than we’ve been in quite some time,” said Washington. “The morale is great. The work ethic is great. They are putting out they are showing up on time they doing good things. I think it’s all about details and they’ve done a very good job with details.
“So I’m very excited, you know where we are right now, as far as like what we see.”
On the other side, North Carolina Central — a dark horse to win what is a jam-packed MEAC — will head into Saturday trying to break a four-game losing streak, all by double digits, in the series.
Like its opponent, the Eagles are hopeful finally having a roster stocked full of experienced and healthy players will serve them well in the season opener and beyond.
Despite the spectacle and all the trappings that a classic can bring, the Eagles understand that this rivalry is a tone-setter for the season.
“We’re definitely prepare for a football game. All the other stuff all that activity that’s for the fans, the alumni and the administration and the students,”said Eagles head coach Trei Oliver, who has been on both sides of the rivalry. “We’ve really been, you know, laser focused on us and our development and just making sure that we have all of our, you know, I’s dotted and T’s crossed.
“You know, it’s about minimizing mistakes and just executing on both sides of the ball, but we’re excited about it.”