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Hatters Home Opener Against Dartmouth is a Go

After spending five days in the New York/New Jersey area, the Stetson football team returned home to DeLand on Tuesday evening to a vastly changed landscape.

Two Hatter football players get ready to tackle Marist player.

The Hatters will take on Dartmouth on Saturday after playing Sacred Heart University and Marist College, above, on the road.

The team practiced in New Jersey on Monday and Tuesday, some 1,100 miles from the Hatters’ practice facility at the Athletic Training Center. The team got right to work in preparation for their home opener this Saturday, Sept. 16, against Dartmouth College.

That game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start at Spec Martin Memorial Stadium in DeLand. With much of central Florida still without power following the passing of Hurricane Irma, the Hatters are hoping to provide a couple of hours of entertainment to help forget about the cleanup process.

To help with making the game affordable, all general admission tickets will be sold for 50 percent off ($10) the normal price of $20, and all children, age 12 and under, will receive free general admission tickets to the game.

All Stetson University students, faculty and staff will also receive free general admission tickets with a valid university ID.

Stetson practiced on Monday and Tuesday at Bergen Catholic High in New Jersey, which is located in the vicinity of the team hotel where the Hatters stayed from Friday until making the trip home on Tuesday. Even though the team has returned to Florida, the players are still being housed at a hotel because the campus is still closed until Sunday.

Despite being far from home, the Hatters did not let circumstances stop them as they began preparation for the first home game in school history against a team from the Ivy League.

“We had a very normal practice, so we are not behind as far as our preparation for Dartmouth,” Hatters coach Roger Hughes said on Monday. “Certainly our thoughts and prayers are with those back in Florida who are dealing with the aftereffects of Hurricane Irma. I thought our kids did a good job of putting everything behind them. They compartmentalized and did everything they could to get better today.”

The schedule adjustments due to the weather mark a continuing trend of abnormal weeks for the Stetson team.

The Hatters had to make adjustments during the first two weeks of the season due to the sudden passing of teammate Nick Blakely on August 28.

“Whatever normal is for us this year, it means chaos, but I think our guys are doing a good job of handling it,” Hughes said. “Guys are doing a good job of bouncing back and helping each other bounce back. Today we not only were practicing, but it looked like they were having fun doing it. We are looking forward to the opportunity to getting better.”

The game on Saturday was originally scheduled to be a blackout game with fireworks to follow the game, but both events are being postponed until later in the season.