MIAMI — Continuing to build on the legacy of greatness, the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Golden Norsemen recognize members of the Armed Services during the 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 2, football season opener at Red Robertson Field against New Mexico Military Institute.

Along with the start of the regular season for second-year head coach Clay Patterson and his staff, the Military Night festivities also mark the start of play in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference.

NEO starts the year ranked No. 14 in the National Junior College Athletic Association preseason poll.

Last season the Golden Norse returned to the conference playoffs for the first time since 2012.

NEO finished in fourth in the SWJCFC with a 4-4 record. The Norsemen lost 48-40 to eventual conference champion Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas.

“Win or lose, I feel like we’ve got a great football team,” Patterson said. “They’ve worked hard in buying in to what we’re trying to do, which is to put away all the selfishness coming into junior college.”

Prior to the game, NEO will host a tailgate party at 4:30 p.m. outside of Red Robertson Field. Cost is $6 for non-students, and tailgaters can choose from a variety of hot dog sausages and toppings, along with a drink and dessert.

Six local Armed Services representatives will be recognized during a ceremony prior to kickoff. Gale C. Black, Robert “Bob” Cline, Robert Gelso, Major General Jerry Grizzle, Elizabeth West, and State Representative Josh West will be honored.

“To show our appreciation for our men and women of all armed services, we want to invite all active and retired military personnel to come to the game as our guest,” NEO athletic director Dale Patterson said.

Located in Roswell, New Mexico, the NMMI Broncos enter the game with a 1-0 season record.

The Broncos rallied last weekend from a 26-21 deficit in the third quarter to defeat the Air Force Prep Huskies 41-26 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Sixth-year head coach Joe Forchtner’s Broncos travel to Colorado Springs, Aug. 26, for a 1 p.m. clash with the Falcons of Air Force Prep.

Last season en route to a 5-4 overall record, the Broncos cruised past the Falcons, 62-27, in Roswell.

The Broncos finished 3-4 in their inaugural season in the SWJCFC. New Mexico Military finished 5-4 on the year.

Squaring off against NMMI at Colt Field last year, the Golden Norsemen saw a 45-31 lead evaporate during the fourth quarter of a 52-45 loss.

Offensively the Broncos generated 515 yards — 121 rushing and 394 passing — while the Norsemen produced 438 total yards — 146 rushing and 292 passing.

Golden Norse tailback Darwin Thompson led all running backs with 111 yards on nine carries with two touchdowns.

“We still have some work to do,” Clay Patterson said. “It became pretty clear during last Thursday’s intra-squad scrimmage which players are going to be able to travel and play for us along both the offensive and defensive fronts.

“Our defense is playing the game the way we want it played. That’s with a lot of physicality and emotion and they’re very excited about the opportunity to face somebody else with a different scheme and players.”

Patterson and his staff have been preparing for a team much like what they saw last year.

“New Mexico Military has a new quarterback that transferred in this summer in Brandon Perdue,” Patterson said. “He’s a big kid (6-4, 210 pounds) and can really throw the football.”

Last week against the Air Force Huskies, Perdue completed 14 of 29 passes for 252 yards and three touchdowns. His quarterback efficiency rating was 155.4 percent. Perdue also gained 46 yards on 11 carries with one TD.

Sophomore Jalen Jackson (5-10, 195 from Winson, Ontario) leads the Broncos ground game with 104 yards on 12 carries.

Wide receivers Cam Saunders and Eric Tollivour are tied for the lead with three receptions each. Saunders has gained 88 yards which includes a 43-yard touchdown pass while Tollivour has an 88-yard TD pass among his 103 yards.

“Special teams in an area where we spent a lot of time getting lined out this week,” Patterson said. “Everything has come together in terms of depth charts and who fits where.

“We’re just concentrating on us and what we’re capable of doing,” Patterson said. “We want to do what we do effectively and to our standards.”