Cullowhee, N.C. - Coming off its third, seven-win season over the past four years, Western Carolina and head coach Mark Speir today released the Catamounts' 2018 schedule which features five home games and a return trip to Chapel Hill to again face the flagship school of the 17-campus University of North Carolina system.
WCU's 11-game schedule includes the rigorous eight-game Southern Conference slate, as well as a pair of games against regional opponents including Newberry and Gardner-Webb. WCU announced that the Sept. 22 home game against VMI -- the Catamounts' SoCon opener -- will also be Family Weekend, while the Nov. 3 home league game against The Citadel has been designated as Homecoming, 2018.
Western Carolina Catamount Football 2018 Schedule
All kickoff times, broadcast schedules, and additional details surrounding WCU's game day information will be released at a later date. Season tickets for the 2018 season are on sale through the WCU Ticket Office on the first floor of the Ramsey Center or online at CatamountSports.com.
"We feel that the 2018 schedule is one that provides us the chance to be successful as we look to capitalize on the positive momentum coming out of the 2017 season," said Speir, who is entering his seventh season in Cullowhee. "Catamount Nation has been awesome the past few years in supporting this football program -- and we need that continued support for our five home games and even going on the road to support this team. We have another tough Southern Conference schedule as we look to take this program back to the NCAA FCS postseason, and I know we're all looking forward to a return trip to Chapel Hill to wrap-up the regular season against North Carolina with the opportunity, the experience, and the exposure that provides for our program."
Speir added, "Right now, we're busy building for the future of our program both with recruiting ahead of National Signing Day and with our returning players and their efforts to make the necessary improvements for next fall. We're looking forward to our opportunities this spring to take that next step as a football team."
One year after leading the Southern Conference in home attendance (10,547 in 2017), Western Carolina opens its 44th season at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field by hosting Newberry, a NCAA Division II opponent. With a series history that dates back to 1948, the Labor Day weekend, Sept. 1 meeting between the Catamounts and the Wolves is the 15th all-time -- and the first since 1993. WCU leads the series, 10-4, including eight-straight victories. Catamount fans are again urged to spend Labor Day weekend holiday in the mountains of Western North Carolina.
Following an early-season open week (Sept. 8), WCU travels back to Boiling Springs, N.C., to face Big South foe, Gardner-Webb -- the third-game of a four-game, home-and-home series including the second-consecutive year meeting at Spangler Stadium. The Catamounts snapped a seven-game road winless drought a year ago with a 42-27 road win, its third-straight win over the Runnin' Bulldogs.
September continues with the onset of Southern Conference play including the league-opener, a Family Weekend meeting with VMI (Sept. 22) in Cullowhee. The Catamounts look to maintain their strong series run, seeking their 16th-consecutive win over the Keydets before the month closes with a road trip to face rival, Furman (Sept. 29) at Paladin Stadium in Greenville, S.C.
October opens with the squad's longest league road game, traveling to Birmingham, Ala., to face NCAA FCS playoff team, Samford (Oct. 6), before hosting Chattanooga (Oct. 13) in Cullowhee. WCU scored wins over both teams a year ago including a thrilling victory over the nationally-ranked Bulldogs, 38-34, before halting an eight-game skid against the Mocs, 45-7, in Chattanooga. One week later, the Catamounts look to break the series tie with Mercer (Oct. 20) after suffering a two-point setback -- 35-33 -- in the home finale last season.
On Oct. 27, Western Carolina travels to Johnson City, Tenn., to face mountain-rival, ETSU. The third series meeting between WCU and ETSU since the Buccaneers rejoined the SoCon represents the second played away from Cullowhee -- but the first at ETSU's new football stadium, which opened prior to the 2017 season. The two rekindled the rivalry at the "World's Fastest Half Mile" -- the Bristol Motor Speedway -- two seasons ago ahead of last year's home win for WCU, 49-10.
November features back-to-back home games including hosting The Citadel for Homecoming, 2018, on Saturday, Nov. 3 and FCS-playoff quarterfinalist, Wofford, on Saturday, Nov. 10. WCU's regular season closes with its second-straight visit to North Carolina's Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill on Saturday, Nov. 17 in a rematch against the Tar Heels -- just the second meeting in the all-time series.
Season tickets for all five home dates in 2018 are on-sale now through the WCU Athletics Ticket Office, located on the first floor of the Ramsey Center, and online at CatamountSports.com. Returning season ticket holders must renew their season tickets to secure the same seats by June 29, 2018. Fans can call the ticket office toll free at (800) 34-GOWCU or (828) 227-2401. General admission season tickets for adults begin at just $75 with additional Purple and Gold Reserved and options in the Western Builders Inc., Family Zone seating options also available.
Fans are also reminded to either renew their membership or join the Catamount Club by the new deadline of May 31, 2018 to become eligible game day perks, such as reserved parking and hospitality benefits. The Catamount Club is the philanthropic arm of the WCU Athletic Department which seeks private support towards student-athlete scholarships. For this year, the Catamount Club is seeking to raise $1.55 million in private scholarship support to advance the mission of WCU Athletics: to be the best place for the student-athlete experience in the Southern Conference. To join the team behind our teams, please call the Catamount Club at (828) 227-3047.
Following the inaugural Early National Signing Period held back in late December, WCU turns its attention to the traditional National Signing Day on Wednesday, Feb. 7. Continuing complete online coverage as each signee is approved will again be available online at CatamountSports.com.
Catamount Athletics, Western Carolina Football, and the Catamount Club will again host a National Signing Day Reception on Saturday, Feb. 17 to provide an overview of this year's incoming class. The event, open to Catamount Club Top Cat members and above, will be hosted in the Ramsey Center Auxiliary Gym and is scheduled for an 11:00 am social followed by the program at Noon, and will be catered by Ingles, The Chef's Kitchen.
The National Signing Day Reception precedes a Catamount basketball doubleheader (BUY TICKETS NOW) as the men square-off against mountain-rival, ETSU, beginning at 2:00 pm while the women host the Samford Bulldogs at approximately 4:30 pm. Make note that the National Signing Day Reception will serve as the pregame "Purple Zone" event for the day prior to the men's basketball tip-off against the Buccaneers.
Due to the high demand and limited seating capacity, Catamount Club members at the Top Cat level and above are encouraged to RSVP as soon as possible to secure their reservation. The deadline to RSVP is Wednesday, Feb. 14. Contact the Catamount Club at (828) 227-2056 or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For tickets to the Catamount hoops doubleheader, contact the WCU Athletics Ticket Office at (828) 227-2401, or log onto CatamountSports.com.
Western Carolina returned to the national NCAA FCS rankings during the 2017 season for the first time since 2006 behind a much improved, opportunistic defense and an offensive unit that shattered school records for points (389) and rushing yards (2,772), finishing with the second-most offensive production in program history with 5,287 total yards. Riding that wave of momentum spurred by WCU's third, seven-win season over the past four years -- and one of the nation's larger turnaround seasons in 2017 -- Speir and the Catamounts expect to open team preparations for the 2018 season with spring drills in late February.
Fans can keep track of everything related to Catamount football and WCU Athletics through its social media outlets on Facebook (fb.com/catamountsports) and Twitter (@catamounts), as well as video updates on the department's YouTube channel (CatamountSports).
Western Carolina 2018 Catamount Football Schedule:
Sept. 1 -- Newberry (Home Opener / Freshmen Run)
Sept. 8 -- OPEN
Sept. 15 -- at Gardner-Webb
Sept. 22 -- VMI * (WCU Family Weekend)
Sept. 29 -- at Furman *
Oct. 6 -- at Samford *
Oct. 13 -- Chattanooga *
Oct. 20 -- at Mercer *
Oct. 27 -- at East Tennessee State *
Nov. 3 -- The Citadel * (2018 Homecoming)
Nov. 10 -- Wofford *
Nov. 17 -- at North Carolina
Nov. 24 -- NCAA FCS Playoffs, First Round (TBA)
* - denotes Southern Conference game Subject to change