Corey Jones and the rest of the Toledo football team will be playing Appalachian State in the Camellia Bowl on Dec. 17 in Montgomery, Ala. BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
The University of Toledo football team accepted an invitation Sunday to play in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl against Appalachian State on Dec. 17 in Montgomery, Ala.
The Rockets (9-3, 6-2 Mid-American Conference) will face a talented Mountaineers team that played to a 9-3 record this season and was co-champion of the Sun Belt Conference along with Arkansas State.
The game will kick off at 5:30 p.m. on ESPN.
“We are honored to have the opportunity to go participate in what we believe is one of the finest bowl games in the country and to see a part of the country that a lot of our student-athletes otherwise would not have an opportunity to go do,” UT coach Jason Candle said. “I think it’s a tremendous opportunity and certainly a reward for a great season. It was a lot of hard work, a lot of effort and a lot of sacrifice that a lot of people made for this to happen.”
Appalachian State is coached by Scott Satterfield, a former Toledo assistant in 2009 on Tim Beckman’s staff. Satterfield served as passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach for UT at the same time Candle was getting his start at UT as a receivers/tight ends coach.
“We were here on coach Beckman’s original staff in 2009 together and we’ve been in contact ever since and have been able to stay in touch,” Candle said. “It will be really fun to have a week down there and compete with those guys. Scott’s a great person and a great man and I have a lot of respect for him. We’ve talked and we talk regularly and certainly it will be a fun game.”
After a nine-win regular season and a second-place finish in the MAC West, Toledo will go into the bowl game looking for back-to-back 10-win seasons, something that has only been done two other times in program history (1969-71 and 2000-01).
“We were pretty excited when we found out,” senior defensive end John Stepec said. “It’s one more shot to get this game and win 10 games in back-to-back seasons. It will be huge for us. It’s just about going down there with the team and having a good time and seeing all that Alabama has to offer us and just being around the guys and having a good time. That’s all I care about. This could be the last game that I play in as well as some of the other seniors, so I just want to go out there and play as hard we can and get this win.”
For the UT players and coaches, a bowl game like this offers a chance for the team to get in more practices. The game itself will give the seniors one more chance for a win, but also will be beneficial in getting a head start on next year for the returning players.
“It will be good to get these extra practices in leading toward next year and to finish out with this bowl game,” junior quarterback Logan Woodside said. “So I definitely think it will be big for us. It’s mostly for the seniors to have them go out and win one more game in a Rockets uniform and then leading into next year, it is momentum in the offseason.”
Appalachian State lost in overtime at Tennessee to open the season, then lost at home to Miami (Fla.), before losing only one Sun Belt Conference game — at Troy.
Candle said he sees a lot of similarities between the two programs.
“That’s a great team,” Candle said. “Year in and year out they have a storied program, with a lot of history very similar to ours. I know their head coach very well. He’s a personal friend and it will be really neat to go compete against him. I know he will have his football team well prepared as he did all season long. I think it’s a program that I have a tremendous amount of respect for.”
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