Coach Dave Doeren and the Huskies will fly from Rockford to Mobile, where they’re scheduled to practice Wednesday afternoon. A dinner to welcome the Huskies (10-3, 7-1) and the Red Wolves of Arkansas State University (10-2, 8-0) will take place Wednesday evening at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
After their practice Thursday afternoon, Doeren and some select members of the team will visit the University of South Alabama Children’s & Women’s Hospital. On Friday, they’ll attend a luncheon hosted by Mobile Mayor Samuel L. Jones before a late-afternoon practice.
Saturday’s busy agenda begins with a noontime visit to the U.S.S. Alabama for lunch and a tour.
That afternoon, the team will walk through Ladd-Peebles Stadium and pose for photos. For fans, a Mardi Gras parade will take place that evening in downtown Mobile before the NIU pep rally, fireworks and street party.
On game day – Sunday, Jan. 8 – fans are invited to a HASF/Alumni Pregame Tailgate that will begin at 5:30 p.m. Quarterback Chandler Harnish and the team then will take the field for the 8 p.m. kick-off. ESPN will broadcast the contest.
Harnish, who won the MAC’s Vern Smith Leadership Award, is matched up against Red Wolves QB Ryan Aplin.
Both sport impressive numbers. Harnish notched 34 total touchdowns in 2011, passing for 23 and scampered for 11. Aplin, named Sun Belt Conference player of the year, threw 18 touchdowns and rushed for 10 more.
The Huskies lead the overall series 6-1; the two teams began their history Oct. 13, 1990, when NIU claimed a 35-0 victory.
Ward, a sophomore ranks who second on the NIU team in tackles with 93, literally set the stage for the Huskies’ 2011 scoring.
By season’s end, Ward was among four Huskies named to the 2011 All-MAC second team.