SEARCY, Ark. –As the Bison football team prepares to meet Henderson State at home on Saturday, Sept. 28, many storylines will converge on the field, beginning with one of Harding’s own — junior defensive back Cory Batie.
Batie entered the Harding record books and earned Great American Conference defensive player of the week honors on Sept. 14 after a 75-yard return for a touchdown and a 77-yard return in a shutout against Arkansas-Monticello, Harding’s first in the 55-game history of the series.
“[It’s] a complete honor for [Batie] to have,” senior offensive lineman Braden Hood said. “It’s a complete honor for our team to have. He’s been a great hard worker this entire time … and I’m glad to see that finally paying off for him a little bit. It’s just more momentum … I think any time a positive thing happens to this football team, it just builds up.”
On the opposite side of the lineup is Richard Stammetti, a Henderson State quarterback and GAC offensive player of the week who threw over 300 yards and made seven touchdowns earlier in the season.
“[Stammetti] makes that offense go,” Simmons said. “If you look at the stats, he’s playing at a really high level. We really haven’t faced a team this year that throws a ball as well as they do, so Coach Tribble and the secondary, they’ve got their work cut out for them. I expect those guys will be ready for the challenge.”
Players and coaches alike reiterated that representing Harding fans each week is a privilege.
“We feel like we have an edge because our crowd is behind us so much,” Simmons said. “Them being there to pull for us is a really big deal for us.”
For some Bisons, Family Weekend is a special opportunity because it may be one of the only times they see their family until May. Fan presence and support is critical, but Batie said knowing that his own flesh and blood is in the stands changes the game.
“My family, they come pretty much once… and this year they’re doing that on Family Weekend, so that’s the only time I really get to see them,” Batie said.“It’s going to be a good thing because I haven’t seen my mom since July, and I really don’t go home until the summer. I really spend nine months without seeing them.”
From the challenge that Stametti poses to Batie’s potential to shine, there is a lot to look forward to going into this Family Weekend matchup. The Bisons seek to add another win to their season, a encounter that will truly test if the Reddies are ready.