BUIES CREEK, N.C. — The Virginia-Wise football team begins a new era this weekend when the Highland Cavaliers play their first game as an NCAA Division II Mountain East Conference member.
Virginia-Wise visits Campbell University, an FCS program, on Saturday at 6 p.m., looking to win its third straight season opener. Last year the Cavs opened with a 24-21 overtime victory over Bethel. Virginia-Wise is 14-8 in season-opening games.
Key returning players for Dewey Lusk's Highland Cavs include wide receiver Terrance Younger, the Mid-South East freshman of the year in 2012 despite playing in just five games; sophomore quarterback Cullen LaVoi; senior defensive tackle Walter Mickey, who has 106 tackles and four sacks in 25 games for Virginia-Wise; cornerbacks Nehemiah Jones and Vernon Payne; and senior kicker Paul Melshen, who enters the season as the school's all-time leader in made field goals with 20.
Virginia-Wise also benefits from the return of offensive lineman Kevin Enix, who missed all of last year after suffering a season-ending injury in the final preseason practice.
Back to lead the Camels are senior Kurt Odom, a dual-threat tailback who rushed for 489 yards and six touchdowns and was the team leader in receptions with 24 in 2012; quarterback Dakota Wolf, the Camels' leading rusher last season when he gained 617 yards on the ground and scored seven TDs; receivers A.J. Artis, Ben Bolling and Jabri Ridenhour; and defenders Issac Scott (7½ sacks last season) and Matt Ferris (team-high 88 tackles in 2012).
EXTRA POINTS: Saturday's game will be the third meeting between the Cavs and Fighting Camels. Campbell leads the series 2-0, including a 10-0 win Sept. 8, 2012, in Buies Creek. ... Campbell turned over the ball four times in its season-opening, 52-7 loss to Charlotte last week. ... After going to Campbell and West Virginia Wesleyan on Sept. 14 to begin the season, the Cavs play their first official Mountain East game on Sept. 21 when they host the University of Charleston.