Related Link: E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field Information
Cullowhee, N.C. – Two high-powered offenses look to kick off the 2019 season on the right foot on Saturday night as the Mercer Bears visit the Western Carolina Catamounts in the first Ingles Southern Conference Game of the Week from E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 pm on a day full of activities across the Cullowhee Valley including being fans asked to help #PurpleOut Whitmire Stadium by wearing purple to the game.
If last year is any indication, fireworks both on and off the field headline the highly-anticipated 2019 season-opener. Mercer edged WCU, 59-46, in an offensive shootout that included 1,282 combined yards of total offense including 710 yards by the Catamounts, just one-yard shy of the school benchmark set by the 1969 Bob Waters-led WCU football team that celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. SoCon preseason Offensive Player of the Year – WCU quarterback Tyrie Adams – accounted for a school-record 545 yards of total offense a year ago, at Five Star Stadium in Macon.
Following Saturday’s season-opening game and an encore presentation by the “Pride of the Mountains” Marching Band, fireworks will illuminate the western North Carolina sky to help officially welcome in the season. The postgame fireworks are presented by Ingles and iHeartMedia partners, 99.9 Kiss Country and Star 104.3.
Tickets for Saturday – and the five remaining home dates following the Labor Day Weekend season-opener that includes the Oct. 26 Homecoming date with Furman – are on sale now through the WCU Athletics Ticket Office and online at CatamountSports.com. Avoid the lines on game day by purchasing your tickets online in advance. Ticket sales and Will Call at Gate 1 of Whitmire Stadium begins at 10:00 am with the ticket booths at each remaining gate opening at 2:30 pm before gates open at 4:30 pm.
Fans can follow Saturday's game against Mercer on the Catamount Sports Network with air time of the Pepsi Pregame Show at 5:00 pm ahead of the 6:00 pm kickoff. The CSN broadcast will air locally on 90.5 WWCU in Cullowhee; 105.7 FM and 540 AM WRGC “The River” in Sylva; 104.9 FM & 1050 AM WFSC in Franklin and Northern Georgia; WISE Sports Radio 1310 AM and 102.9 FM in Asheville; and 970 AM WYSE in Canton. The broadcast will also have live streaming audio available online through Stretch Internet at CatamountSports.com.
Saturday’s game is also the first of the 13-game Ingles Southern Conference Game of the Week package and will air on the Nexstar Media including affiliate clearances on WYCW (Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville); WJHL (Tri-Cities); WCBD (Charleston); WMUB (Macon) and WWCW (Roanoke). WCU's broadcast production can also be seen on ESPN+ (subscription required) and the ESPN app with Pete Yanity calling the play-by-play and Jared Singleton on color commentary.
Western Carolina and Mercer both look to get a leg-up on the SoCon competition in the highly-anticipated opener that both campuses have had circled on the calendar since schedules officially went public in February. After claiming the first two series meetings including a thrilling, come-from-behind 24-21 win in Cullowhee in 2015, the Catamounts have lost three-straight in the series with the Bears.
Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 pm.
Additional Story Lines in Saturday’s Meeting with Mercer:
• LOOKING TO BOUNCE BACK: Last year, the Catamounts were hot out of the gate by winning their first three games – the program’s best start since 1976 ... However, WCU dropped eight-straight to end the year ... Of the eight-consecutive losses, WCU lost TWICE by six points or fewer and held double-digit leads in FOUR games – 14 at Mercer (L, 59-46), 15 at #25 ETSU (L in 3OT, 45-43), 14 vs. The Citadel (L, 38-24), and 13 vs. No. 14 Wofford (L, 38-23) ... WCU looks to halt the eight-game slide with the 2019 opener against Mercer;
• OPENING THE YEAR IN LEAGUE PLAY: Western Carolina kicks off the 2019 season against Southern Conference-foe, the Mercer Bears ... Saturday marks just the third time in program history that WCU has opened a season against a Southern Conference opponent – and the first-time since 1980 that WCU has opened a year at home against a conference foe, defeating VMI in front of over 11,600 fans ... Saturday marks the second-time in Mercer’s SoCon history that the Bears open the year against a conference foe – the first time on the road ... Mercer hosted 15th-ranked The Citadel to open the 2016 season;
Things to Know Before You Go:
Where to Park:
• General Admission parking is available in the following parking lots on the WCU campus: H.F. Robinson Building (Lot 1A & 1B) and both the North and South Baseball Lots (8A & 8B) ... It is also recommended that fans consider taking Old Cullowhee Road to the old entrance to the WCU campus and utilize parking in the lots behind Hunter Library for game day ... Parking – especially for visiting fans – is also available down Little Savannah Road behind the Catamount Travel Center (Student Commuter Lot 73) and past the Cullowhee Post Office at the WCU Health & Human Science (HHS) parking lots (Catch a ride on the “Tailgate Express,” the FREE GAMEDAY SHUTTLE, see below);
• Catamount Club Reserved Parking Lots (parking pass required) include: Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center (Lot13), Belk (Lot14), Jordan-Phillips Field House (Lot12), Football Stadium (Lot 10), Creek (Lot9C) Lot, and Camp Lab Festival Parking (Lot4A) ... All patrons with parking passes should enter the FOREST HILLS ROAD (third stoplight, near Ramsey Center and baseball stadium) entrance to campus, display parking credential to gain access to Catamount Road … Be reminded that general access to Catamount Road is limited from 2:30 pm through the duration of the game except for those with proper parking credentials.
** Please make note” the pedestrian bridge between Camp Lab Parking (Lots 4A and 4B) and Gate 1 of the stadium will close to foot traffic for safety reasons at 6:15 pm in preparation for postgame fireworks and will remain closed for the remainder of the day ... Fans will be asked to stay clear of the intramural fields between Camp Lab and the Creek Lot, where the fireworks will be fired - security personnel will be staffed in those areas ... Regress traffic back to the Camp Lab lots (4A & 4B) following the game will need to use the sidewalk on Centennial Drive. **
Note: WCU Parking & Transportation will run a FREE "Tailgate Express Cat Tran Shuttle" for each home football game this year, presented by Ingles. Vehicles will be directed to park on the millennial campus at the Health & Human Services (HHS) Lots# 76A & 76B down Little Savannah Road where patrons will be picked up by the FREE shuttle and delivered to either Gate 1 on the West Side stands or to the Ramsey Center circle drive on Forest Hills Road with easy access to the East Side gates. Shuttles will also be available after the game for return trips to these lots. Please note that this is not a shuttle around campus - just to and from the parking lots.
The Catamount Club:
• The Purple Zone (for qualifying members; requires proper credentials & RSVP): Located on the Ramsey Center Patio - is open from 3:30 pm until 5:30 pm;
• Paws Porch (requires a game ticket, credential): Located on the patio of the Jordan Phillips Fieldhouse: Doors open at 5:30 pm;
• Catamount Corner (for qualifying members; requires game ticket & proper credential): Located on the patio of the Jordan Phillips Fieldhouse: Doors open at 5:30 pm;
Where to Buy Tickets:
• Purchase - and PRINT - tickets in advance through CatamountSports.com.
On Game Day:
• WCU Athletics Ticket Office - (828) 227-2401 -- phone lines open beginning at 9:00 AM until kickoff time at 6:00 pm ... There is only phone order and ticket information at the Ramsey Center ticket office on game day -- NO WALK-UP SALES;
• Gate 1 Ticket Sales on the West Side of the stadium open at 10:00 for walk-up sales;
• Ticket sales at all other gates begin at 2:30 pm - Gates 2, 3, and 4;
• All stadium gates open to the public at 4:30 pm ... Gate 6 for Player Pass also opens at 4:30 pm.
• Remember to bring proper photo identification to pick up tickets at WCU's Will Call;
• Main Will Call for picking up purchased tickets or tickets being left for pick-up is at Gate 1; however, fans can receive Will Call at any entrance gate ticket booth;
• Guests of WCU Chancellor’s Office can pick up tickets at the Chancellor’s Pregame Tailgate, located on the lawn of the Ramsey Center adjacent Catamount Road … Those who are unable to pick-up their tickets during the tailgate may do so at Will Call at Gate 4;
• WCU Football Player's Guest will utilize Gate 6; as well as Dance/Cheer Guests: Gate 6 ... Those who are on the player pass list must show a photo ID to pick up their tickets -- again, Player Pass Will Call will not open until 4:30 pm when the stadium gates are open;
• Once player pass tickets are picked up, the individual MUST enter the stadium;
• Football Recruits: Hospitality, enter through the door next to the truck tunnel. After 5:30 pm, go to Gate 6;
• All Other Recruits: Gate 6;
• High School Coaches: Present card to any ticket booth and receive up to TWO free admission tickets ... Pick up tickets from any ticket booth – not the player pass location;
• WCU Coach Guest: Gate 1
• Chair Back Reserved: Adult $35 Youth (Ages 3-12) $25 (All Gates) -- Sections DD, JJ, KK, LL;
• Bench Back Reserved: Adult $30 Youth (Ages 3-12) $20 (All Gates) – Sections JJ, MM;
• Bleacher Reserved: Adult $30, Youth (Ages 3-12) $20 – Sections D, E, F, J, K L
• General Admission – Gameday: Adult $20, Youth (Ages 3-12) $15 -- Sections G, GG seating only
Other Helpful Game Day Hints:
• BRING CASH -- though WCU's ticket booths and concessions stands at Whitmire Stadium are capable of credit/debit card transactions, lines for the popular stadium fare can back up ... There will be extra CASH-ONLY lines for items such as drinks on game day;
• Arrive early to avoid long lines entering Whitmire Stadium ... Also, there are numerous gates that allow entry to the stadium -- familiarize yourself with the best gates to get you to your seats for all the pregame festivities!
• Be sure to enjoy a variety of stadium fare at the Aramark concessions stands, proudly serving ice-cold Pepsi products -- or other vendors such as Bojangles', Speedy's Pizza, South of Philly, Tubby’s Caramel Corn & More and Jack the Dipper ice cream.
Game Day Promotions:
• Saturday’s game is being billed a “Purple Out” with all fans encouraged to wear their Catamount PURPLE to the game … WCU’s football team will dress in its all-purple uniform look for the season opener … Fans are asked to participate and show their support by wearing purple to the game;
• Saturday includes a new “Tailgate Town” located in the Ramsey Center Lot 9A from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm – country music recording artist Joe Lasher will perform LIVE beginning at 4 pm, presented by Ingles … Also, join WCU student-athletes and the iHeartMedia “iTeam” with great games and prizes with great food options for purchase from the Chili Chomper 2 food truck;
• Gather with other Purple & Gold clad faithful to cheer on the Catamounts during the "Cat Walk" to the stadium at approximately 3:45 pm in the Stadium and Field House parking lots;
• The WCU Game Day Information Booth opens at 5:30 pm just outside of Gate 1;
• The Catamount Kids' Zone and “Paws Playground” opens at 4:30 pm just inside the main entrance at Gate 1;
• As Western Carolina welcomes a new chancellor – Dr. Kelli R. Brown – the university also welcomes its Class of 2023 with the ninth-annual “Freshmen Run” … the first-year student tradition began by late Chancellor Dr. David O. Belcher is quite the pregame spectacle as over 1,000 freshmen are expected to participate in this year’s run;
• At halftime and again following the game, the "Pride of the Mountains" Marching Band will perform their show to the East Side stands … Following the encore presentation, cast your eyes skyward for a fireworks extravaganza presented by Ingles and iHeartMedia partners 99.9 Kiss Country and Star 104.3.