DAYTONA BEACH – With temperatures expected to be in the mid-70s for the 6:05 p.m. kickoff for the NAIA football championship, Saint Francis and Baker will be battling far different conditions than their respective hometowns.
Heat and humidity at Municipal Stadium will replace the cold and snow of Fort Wayne and Baldwin City, Kansas.
“Both teams have been practicing in nice temperatures … we have to worry about the heat and cramping, but if we stay hydrated, we should be able to get through the heat,” Saint Francis sophomore linebacker Piercen Harnish said Friday.
The teams have been practicing in the Florida heat since arriving Tuesday.
No. 4 Saint Francis (12-1) is playing in its fourth NAIA title game, while No. 2 Baker (14-0) is in its second. Both teams were out on the field a couple hours before the game, looking loose and ready to go.
The Saint Francis faithful that made the trip south were on the north side of the stadium partaking in some pregame tailgating.
The Cougar fans were said to include (according to Harnish) about 10-15 people from his family and about 45 strong from the family of senior offensive lineman Keegan Bruner.
“We will see if they can be loud for us,” Harnish said.
Most of the day the Saint Francis players were relaxing in and near their hotel about 10 miles away and working on late mental preparations, according to Saint Francis coach Matt Millhouse.