NATCHITOCHES - A five-game home schedule, including two September appearances in Turpin Stadium, combines with visits to Texas Tech and Nevada to highlight the 2012 football schedule for the Northwestern State Demons, athletics director Greg Burke said Wednesday.
The Demons open Sept. 1 at Texas Tech and have their home debut a week later against Arkansas-Monticello. After visiting Nevada, the final slot on the schedule was filled by Mississippi Valley State visiting Turpin Stadium on Sept. 22.
The Southland Conference season was originally slated to start Sept. 22 with a home game against Nicholls, but Nicholls officials agreed to move their visit to Natchitoches to Oct. 27. The Colonels will be Northwestern's homecoming opponent.
"It is good to finally have our 2012 schedule completed and while it took a little longer than normal, things have fallen into place nicely. It was important to secure a fifth home game for our team and for our fans and that was accomplished by recently signing a contract to play Mississippi Valley State at Turpin Stadium on Sept. 22," said Burke.
NSU's Southland Conference slate will kick off on the road Sept. 29 at McNeese, beginning a seven-game closing string of league games. The Demons will host Lamar Oct. 6, then go to Southeastern Louisiana the following Saturday and have an open date Oct. 20 before hosting Nicholls Oct. 27.
November opens with consecutive games against the Southland's 2011 FCS playoff teams, with a Nov. 3 visit to Central Arkansas and the Demons' final home game Nov. 10 against FCS finalist Sam Houston State. The regular season ends Nov. 17 with the annual Battle for Chief Caddo, sports' largest trophy, as the Demons will travel to play Stephen F. Austin.
Home games are slated for 6 p.m. kickoffs, said Burke. Game times could change when the Southland Conference announces its TV slate this summer, although the homecoming game Oct. 27 won't be moved from its 6 p.m. kickoff.
An experienced NSU squad returns for 2012, painting an optimistic forecast for the season.
"I am excited about the 2012 schedule and the chance for our Demons to have a great season," said Burke.
The Demons have a projected 52 seniors and juniors in 2012, with 52 lettermen and 16 starters back from 2011. Offensively, 27 letterwinners should return while 23 defensive veterans are expected back along with specialists John Shaughnessy and Nic Russo.
Two-time All-America linebacker Derek Rose headlines the senior class. NSU will return nine offensive starters and six more players who started at least once on offense. The Demons welcome back seven defensive starters and another three who got at least one start on defense.
There's more to a home game experience than simply the football game, and at Northwestern, Burke is proud of the appealing menu for fans.
"In addition to the on-field competition, the Turpin Stadium game day experience will continue to be enhanced for our fans. The addition of the Collins Family Pavilion to pre-game activities last fall took pre-game activities to another level. Interest in tailgating spots was also at an all-time high. Add to all of that the Demon Walk by the football team through the tailgating area, the always rousing entrance of the team on to the field through the trademark purple smoke, and the indomitable presence of the Spirit of Northwestern marching band and football Saturdays at Turpin are definitely worth the entertainment dollar."
The NSU team will begin spring practice in March, concluding April 5 with the 22nd Annual Joe Delaney Bowl spring game in Turpin Stadium.
2012 Northwestern State Football Schedule
(* indicates Southland Conference games)
Sept. 1, at Texas Tech, TBA; Sept. 8, Arkansas-Monticello, 6 p.m.; Sept. 15, at Nevada, TBA; Sept. 22, Mississippi Valley State, 6 p.m.; Sept. 29, at McNeese State*, 7 p.m.; Oct. 6, Lamar*, 6 p.m.; Oct. 13, at Southeastern Louisiana*, TBA; Oct. 20, open date; Oct. 27, Nicholls* (Homecoming), 6 p.m.; Nov. 3, at Central Arkansas*, TBA; Nov. 10, Sam Houston State, 6 p.m.; Nov. 17, at Stephen F. Austin*, 6 p.m.