With three of the first four games at Robertson Field, Northeastern A&M’s 2012 football schedule features two new opponents.
"I’m very excited about the fact that we have five very solid home games," NEO second-year head coach Dale Patterson said. "We have three junior college programs coming to Miami for 7 p.m. Games, our 2 p.m. homecoming game with Kilgore, Texas, and then a 2 p.m. regular season finale with No. 5 ranked Navarro, Texas.
"We think this is the first time in a few years where we’ll have five really good home games for our fans," Patterson said. "We’ll put this schedule up against anybody because there’s no junior varsity games and four of our Southwest Junior College Football Conference games are against teams that appear in the National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association pre-season poll."
Returning to the sidelines last year after a seven-year hiatus, Patterson guided the Golden Norse to a 3-6 season record.
"This is one of the toughest schedules in the Southwest Conference," Patterson said. "There are no pushovers in this schedule and no game where you can just say we should win."
Competing in the SWJCFC-Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference season kickoff weekend, the Golden Norsemen entertain the Scotties of Highland (Kan.) Community College at 7 p.m. on Sept. 1.
Last season the SWJCFC won six of the seven games played between the two leagues. The Norse defeated Garden City 26-20 in the season opener.
NEO remains at home of Sept. 8 to host the Panthers of Ellsworth (Iowa) Community College at 7 p.m.
"I really like the fact that we have the continuity in this schedule with having the first five games starting at 7 o’clock because it can be very warm in the month of September," Patterson said. "Then we play in the afternoon the latter part of the season."
Opening play in the conference, the Golden Norse travel to Brenham, Texas, Sept. 15, for a 7 p.m. clash with 10th-ranked Blinn College. The Buccanneers finished 9-3 last season following a 46-17 loss to Mississippi Gulf Coast in the inaugural Mississippi Bowl in Biloxi.
Returning home on Sept. 22, the Norsemen entertain the Bearcats of Lon Morris Community College from Jacksonville, Texas, at 7 p.m. The Bearcats are in the SWJCFC for the first season after playing four games last year as an independent.
"Another thing that I like about this schedule is that we’re playing at Tyler’s Mother Francis Rose Stadium on Thursday night," Patterson said. "TJC had a conflict with the two Tyler high schools for the use of the storied stadium on Saturday, so we decided to play on Thursday rather than play somewhere else on Saturday."
The NEO-Tyler game will be Sept. 27 after the 18th-ranked Apaches finished 7-4 last year.
Completing a two-game road trip on Oct. 6, the Golden Norsemen travel to Athens, Texas for a 3 p.m. game with the 11th-ranked Trinity Valley Community College Cardinals. Last season the Cardinals dropped a 21-17 decision to No. 3 ranked Butler County, Kan., in the second annual Citizen’s Bank Bowl in Pittsburg, Kan., to finish 8-3 overall.
Hosting the Rangers of Kilgore College for homecoming on Oct. 13, the Norsemen will play at 2 p.m. Last season coach J.J. Eckert guided the Rangers to a 3-6 season.
Concluding the road portion of the schedule on Oct. 20, the Golden Norse travel to Cisco, Texas, to face the Cisco Wranglers at 2 p.m.
Fifth ranked Navarro College of Corsicana, Texas, comes to Robertson Field on Oct. 27 for a 2 p.m. regular season finale with the Norsemen. Last year the Bulldogs won the SWJCFC post-season championship before defeating New Mexico Military Institute in the Heart of Texas Bowl at Copperas Coves. The Bulldogs finished 11-2 overall.
Post season conference semifinals are slated Nov. 3, with the championship game scheduled Nov. 10.
"Our sophomores are really working hard in the off-season to get stronger and faster because we think we can make the playoffs this year," Patterson said. "With our recruiting class and the balance of our schedule, I think a playoff game is certainly a possibility for us."