Western Carolina Releases 2017 Catamount Football Schedule

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Press release courtesy of Daniel Hooker, Assistant AD for Media Relations.

Cullowhee, N.C. – Western Carolina head football coach Mark Speir today unveiled the Catamounts’ 12-game 2017 schedule which features a combined five home dates, and is bookended by road games at a pair of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools including two historic first-time meetings at both Hawai’i and the flagship school of the 17-campus UNC system, North Carolina.

In addition to the full eight-game Southern Conference schedule, WCU plays three nonconference games against regional opponents.

All kickoff times and additional details surrounding WCU’s game day information will be released at a later date. Season tickets for the 2017 season are currently on sale through the WCU Athletics Ticket Office on the first floor of the Ramsey Center or online at CatamountSports.com.

“From opening in Hawai’i through finishing the season in Chapel Hill at the University of North Carolina, this is one of the most unique schedules I think we’ve ever had at Western Carolina,” said Speir, who is entering his sixth season at WCU. “This schedule will provide a chance to showcase Catamount football from sea to shining sea including three in-state opponents. We’ve got a very challenging schedule, but I feel it is set-up for us to be successful.”

Speir added, “Over the past five years, we’ve built Cullowhee into one of the best environments for college football – and one of the toughest places to play both in and out of the Southern Conference. We are again counting on the Catamount Nation to pack the ‘Whee for all five home dates in 2017, and continue that home field advantage that is second-to-none.”

Western Carolina opens 2017 with a momentous game as the Catamounts will play outside the contiguous 48 states for the first-time in program history when they visit the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors in Honolulu, O’ahu. The first-ever meeting between the two programs is set for Saturday, Sept. 2 at Aloha Stadium.

The trip comes two years removed from what was billed as the longest football road trip in school history as the Catamounts ventured to College Station, Texas, to face Texas A&M as a part of the 2015 docket.

The Catamounts open the home portion of their schedule in week two by hosting former SoCon member, Davidson, at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field. The Sept. 9 meeting is just the third all-time between the two programs, and the first since the second of back-to-back games played in 1984 and 1985 – both Catamount victories.

WCU plays the second game of a four-year deal with the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs, traveling to Boiling Springs, N.C., on Sept. 16 before hosting another set of canines to open league play the following week. Samford makes the trip west to Cullowhee on Sept. 23 as WCU celebrates Family Weekend.

Western Carolina’s schedule alternates between home and away for the bulk of the year and features consecutive road games just once. The Catamounts conclude the month of September by visiting Chattanooga on Sept. 30 before opening October with a trip to the Upstate of South Carolina to face Wofford in league action on Oct. 7.

Conference rival, ETSU, makes its return to Cullowhee for the first time since 2002 on Oct. 14. The two schools halted a 12-year hiatus a season ago at the Bristol Motor Speedway. A week later, the Catamounts travel to Lexington, Va., to face the VMI Keydets before concluding the month with the annual Homecoming game on Oct. 28. Purple will reign supreme as long-time rival, Furman, invades Cullowhee on Homecoming weekend.

November’s schedule opens with a road trip to defending SoCon champion, The Citadel, in Charleston, S.C., on Nov. 4 before wrapping up the home portion of the slate against Mercer on Nov. 11 as WCU inducts its 28th Athletics Hall of Fame class. The Catamounts conclude their regular season schedule at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C., against North Carolina in the first of two meetings with the Tar Heels over the next two seasons.

Led by All-America all-purpose back Detrez Newsome, Western Carolina returns a bulk of its offensive production from a season ago including 27 of the team’s 32 offensive touchdowns. Newsome found the end zone 10 times on the ground, and added four TD receptions and a heart-stopping kickoff return for a score at SEC-foe, South Carolina, in 2016. He will be flanked by the returning SoCon Freshman of the Year in quarterback Tyrie Adams with three of the team’s top five receivers from last year returning, including Terryon Robinson who recorded 71 catches for 738 yards and six touchdowns.

The Catamount defensive unit returns with renewed vigor under new coordinator, veteran coach John Wiley. All told, WCU returns four defenders who posted 60-or-more tackles a season ago, and are joined by all-conference punter, Ian Berryman, on special teams.

Season tickets for all five home dates in 2017 are on-sale now through the WCU Athletics Ticket Office and online at CatamountSports.com. Returning season ticket holders must renew their season tickets by mid-June, 2017. Fans can call the ticket office toll free at (800) 34-GOWCU or (828) 227-2401.

National Signing Day is Wednesday, Feb. 1, with complete online coverage as each signee is approved online at CatamountSports.com. Catamount Athletics, WCU Football, and the Catamount Club will host a National Signing Day reception on Saturday, Feb. 11 to provide an overview of this year’s incoming class.

The event, which will be hosted in the Ramsey Center, is scheduled for an 11:00 am social followed by the program at Noon – and precedes a Catamount men’s basketball game vs. UNCG slated for 2:00 pm. WCU’s National Signing Day (NSD) reception is open to Catamount Club members at the Top Cat level and above with the social catered by Ingles The Chef’s Kitchen. The Catamount Club asks that all eligible members planning to attend the NSD reception RSVP by 5:00 pm on Wednesday, Feb. 8 by Email at catamountclub@wcu.edu or by phone at (828) 227-2056.

Fans can keep track of everything related to Catamount football and WCU Athletics through its social media outlets on Facebook (fb.com/catamountsports) and Twitter (@catamounts), as well as video updates on the department's YouTube channel (CatamountSports).

Western Carolina 2017 Catamount Football Schedule:
Sept. 2 – at Hawai’i
Sept. 9 – vs. Davidson (2017 Home Opener)
Sept. 16 – at Gardner-Webb
Sept. 23 – vs. Samford * (WCU Family Weekend)
Sept. 30 – at Chattanooga *
Oct. 7 – at Wofford *
Oct. 14 – vs. ETSU *
Oct. 21 – at VMI *
Oct. 28 – vs. Furman * (WCU Homecoming)
Nov. 4 – at The Citadel *
Nov. 11 – vs. Mercer * (Hall of Fame)
Nov. 18 – at North Carolina
Nov. 25 – NCAA FCS Playoffs, First Round (TBA)

* - denotes Southern Conference game
Subject to change