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Published on July 29th, 2014 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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Palmetto Capital City Classic; “Coaches Getting Serious”

Pictured above from left; Coach James Woody, Benedict College, Coach Willie Jeffries, Executive Director of the Palmetto Capital City Classic and Coach Buddy Pough, S.C. State University. Photo by Calvin Reese, Millennium Magazine.

COLUMBIA, S.C. – With a month before the kickoff to the season-opener Palmetto Capital City Classic between Benedict College and South Carolina State University, both head coaches are starting to get serious.

At the press conference to officially announce the game and the week-long list of activities leading up to the contest, South Carolina State head coach Buddy Pugh, normally one to deliver plenty of jokes and barbs, was slightly more subdued than usual. And Benedict College head coach James Woody was his usual in-season focus and determination mode.

The Tigers and Bulldogs will open the season on Aug. 30 in Benedict’s Charlie W. Johnson Stadium. S.C. State last played there in 2010, a 61-20 Bulldog victory. The two schools renewed the rivalry in last year’s Capital City Classic, which was played at USC’s Williams-Brice Stadium and the Bulldogs won 59-6.

It was last year’s loss which still stings Woody.

Woody, who will be starting his third full season, said the Tigers are continuing to improve and should provide some tougher competition against the Bulldogs.
“We feel real good about this team,” Woody said. “We’ll put on a good show this year. You’ll see a big turnaround with this program.”

But he knows the Bulldogs, an established Division I program with several all-conference players on the roster, pose a big challenge. S.C. State was recently picked to finish second in the competitive MEAC, in a vote of the league’s head coaches and sports information directors.

“It will be a challenge for us,” Woody said. “It’s going to take a great football game to beat those guys, but I feel real good about our chances. If we slow the game down, capitalize on some mistakes, and hopefully we can pull a victory out.”

Pugh said he wasn’t going to provide barbs or sound bites, but still had the room laughing despite his best efforts.

“I didn’t really know Benedict folks until I moved here and got to be so close and have some great relationships with so many of you. It’s fun poking at you,” Pugh said. “I’m at the point now where we ain’t doing a lot of poking right now. You all thought I was going to come out and give you all kinds of sound bites and stuff. The best thing I can say right now is, (S.C. State interim athletic director) Dr. (Octavio) Miro was our sound bite guy. He said we’ll be here on the 30th.”

Despite the recent lop-sided scores in favor of S.C. State in recent years, Pugh isn’t taking this game for granted, especially since it will be in Benedict’s home stadium.

“It’s always tough when you go to another guy’s house and play a football game. I’m sure Benedict will be about as prepared as you can be under these circumstances,” Pugh said “We’ll be behind a little bit, but we’re going to get prepared, and by the time we get here for the Palmetto Capital City Classic on the 30th of August, our people will be ready to go.”

Woody is hoping the Tigers can utilize the home field advantage.

“The bottom line is we have to play. And our kids seem to play well at home and they feed off the energy of the crowd,” Woody said. “So I’m expecting a big crowd to come in here and cheer and make this a Classic atmosphere and put some points on them and actually stop them from scoring as well. This year, they’ll be up for the challenge and you’ll see a much more balanced game.”

This year’s Classic will be the thirteenth annual game and will feature an array of scheduled and planned events including the PCCC Golf Tournament, PCCC R&B and Jazz Old School Show, PCCC Pre-game Show and the PCCC Battle of the Bands Drum-line Challenge, a marquee event last year featuring college and high school bands, and an Alumni Mixer/Reception.

Tickets are available at the Benedict College athletic department office at 2317 Laurel Street or by calling 803-705-4784

For more information click here www.PalmettoCCC.com

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