Panthers report today, begin workouts Friday

Zack Clifford (No. 7), shown in action during a 38-35 Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) loss to Washington and Lee University at W.B. Adams Stadium last fall, returns for his senior year and his third season as Ferrum College’s starting quarterback.

FERRUM — Football players at Ferrum College report to campus today with a month’s worth of preseason workouts set to begin Friday.

The Panthers are coming off a 5-5 campaign, one in which they finished 3-4 in their inaugural year in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC).

Senior running back Brian Mann, who should likely surpass the 5,000-yard mark in career rushing returns as does senior quarterback Zack Clifford, Ferrum’s starter behind center each of the last two years.

Rob Grande begins his fourth year as head coach after guiding the Panthers to a 19-11 mark over the past three seasons; the Panthers were 6-4 in his first season in charge and 8-2 in his second.

Ferrum doesn’t open its season until Saturday, September 14 when the Panthers face Greensboro (North Carolina) College on the road. Each of its 10 opponents start its campaign Saturday, September 7 — Ferrum’s open date.

Thus, Ferrum, which brings a two-game losing streak into the season, will play 10 straight weeks of regular-season football. Should it reach postseason, there will be no breaks as well.

Such is not the case in 2020 because Averett, which is in its final year of a contract with Hampden-Sydney College this year, has agreed to face Ferrum in next year’s season opener.

Week three is open for Ferrum next year, followed by eight weeks of ODAC games.

This year, Southern Virginia University, a football-only member in the ODAC, begins conference play. The Knights are the Panthers’ opponent on Saturday, October 26, the same day the Blue Ridge Institute stages the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival.

Averett takes on Ferrum in the Panthers’ home opener on September 21 which has been designated as Hall of Fame Weekend.

The Panthers’ ODAC opener is the following week against regining league champion Randolph-Macon College, which saw its 2018 season end in the second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs.

Ferrum was the only ODAC team to defeat the Yellow Jackets a year ago.

October includes games at Washington and Lee, the 2017 conference champion, home versus Guilford (North Carolina) College for homecoming, at Bridgewater College and Southern Virginia. In November, Ferrum entertains Shenandoah University on Senior Day before completing regular-season play with visits to Hampden-Sydney College and Emory & Henry College.

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