By: Ryan Kelly | WCTV Eyewitness News
October 3, 2018
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – It’s homecoming on the Highest of the Seven Hills, the first for new head football coach Willie Simmons. The hometown kid will get a dose of pageantry this week-- in between practice, of course.
FAMU homecoming is not the only big game this weekend for our local teams; it will be a rivalry down south as Florida State takes on Miami.
Willie Simmons and Willie Taggart are looking for two program-defining wins; wins that have been a lifetime in the making.
Every year, Seminole and Rattler faithful wait with breathless anticipation for a weekend like this one. But for Simmons and Taggart, this weekend is decades in the making.
"My godmother showed me a picture when I first got the job of me being a little boy sitting on one of the floats with the cheerleaders from FAMU and I was probably four years old," said Simmons.
"I just remember when that week came on we had little league games, and as soon as that game was over with we were watching TV watching the 'Canes and the 'Noles play. It's one heck of a rivalry," Taggart shared.
For Florida A&M University, this weekend is a statement after a beat down of NC Central. FAMU is hoping to prove they’re a legitimate MEAC contender, with Simmons hoping his Rattlers can be a part of the homecoming celebration, and not just a prelude to halftime.
"Now we've made it a meaningful game, which it hasn't been for probably seven years that this game has significant meaning,” said Coach Simmons. “Now, because you have two teams that are both undefeated, that it's probably the biggest game in black college football this weekend."
For Florida State, it’s about revenge and respect. The Seminoles are double-digit underdogs to the Hurricanes, and after seeing their seven-game winning streak over Miami snapped last year, the eyes of the nation are looking to see if FSU has taken any steps forward.
But, Taggart says he hasn’t had to push the team’s buttons to get them going.
He said, "It's a game you don't necessarily have to get guys fired up for, they understand the importance of this game and here in the state this is kind of where it starts when it comes to winning a state championship. It starts with this game here."
On Saturday, the dreams of two kids from Quincy and Bradenton become reality, with both hoping the only victorious Orange and Green is at Bragg.