McNeese State University heads into first game of the season

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Published: Sep. 1, 2023 at 6:30 AM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Rowdy fans, tailgating, and Saturday night lights! Football season is back as the Cowboys kick off their football season on Saturday.

The team and fans are heading into their first game with lots of energy against Tarelton State at 7 p.m.

Senior Associate AD for Athletic Communications Matthew Bonnette says McNeese has a lot in store for the weekend, “It starts tonight with our block party, it’s a fun time and it’s free. Free parking, free admission, great band the flame throwers, and of course it leads into tomorrow a day full of activities.”

If you haven’t got your tickets yet they cost $20 and kids 12 and under get in free.

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Many are already preparing for the big day with their tailgating equipment and even celebrating with live music and even a block party.

For the third year, the McNeese Athletic Foundation will be presenting the Cowboy Block Party every Friday night prior to home games. And this year they plan to spice it up with bands at every party and food trucks on site.

Athletic director Heath Schroyer says the block parties are the biggest parties of the year and focus on getting the community to come out and engage with the University.

“It’s football weekend what could be better?” said Schroyer “The block party literally kicks off football weekend.”

The McNeese block parties are free to the public and take place every Friday night before a home game.

Tonight, September 1, the block party will have live music featuring “The Flamethrowers” and even a DJ to finish off the night.

“The gates open at 6 p.m. and the flame throwers start playing at 7. It’s the best party in Lake Charles by far” said Schroyer.

Outside alcoholic beverages are allowed but food and drinks will be available for purchase.

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When head coach Garry Goff was asked about the upcoming season he said he hopes to hear lots of cannons going off.

“This first game is going to be a great challenge for us. We’re playing a very good football team, Tarleton. They’re a lot like us in a lot of ways, but I’m excited our guys have worked hard for the last year” said Goff.

Goff said the excitement has been building for a while and the day is almost here; “They’re anxious I’m trying to hold them back a little bit right now, but should be a long, great, fun season for us. We’re a lot better football team, but we got to pass the test come Saturday night.”

Goff says the support and the types of celebrations held in the community are great; “Ever since we stepped foot in Lake Charles, I’ve said this, Lake Charles is a very special place. I mean, the love the support that the town has for McNeese athletic department and our football program is second to none and that’s why I want to go out there and put on great show and start getting back to our winning ways” said Goff. “It’s for Lake Charles and our team feels that they know that the community is behind them and it’s a lot of fun.”

As the suspense builds for kick off the Pride of McNeese Band has been practicing and preparing to bring the jams all season long.

Director Dr. Tim Pardue said that the band has many surprises for the year and halftime show but did give KPLC a hint.

“We’re starting out the season celebrating the music of Earth, Wind and Fire classic 70s band then later in the season, we’re going to be playing music by Journey to celebrate their 50th anniversary as a band,” said Pardue.

He said they plan closing out the season with a salute to Broadway, “We will be featuring music from Hamilton and Wicked. It’s going to be a great time tomorrow to start off the season.”

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The McNeese students say this season will be one to remember and they have big plans for homecoming at the end of October.

Jacqueline Clark is the director of Student Engagement and Leadership and says this year’s homecoming will be a fun-filled festive week.

“The theme is Poke Chella! We will have the traditional oozeball which is a mud volleyball tournament” said Clark. “The students actually picked the theme. We’re actually having an event for students called Poke Chella Fest on that Tuesday.”

Clarke said there will also be a parade and pep rally that Thursday where they will crown the homecoming king and queen.

Things to Know:

Friday, September 1 Tailgating and a Block Party

McNeese ticket office and Will Call will be open from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Tailgate lots open at 12 noon.

The free Friday night Cowboy Block Party at the Robert Noland Alumni Grove will start at 6 p.m. and music beginning at 7 p.m. until 9 p.m.

Vehicles must be removed from block party by 8 a.m. Saturday morning.

Saturday, September 2 Game Day!

Parking lots open at 8 a.m.

Ticket office and Will Call opens at 1 p.m. and will close after halftime.

Ticket office will only be accessible via Les DeVall Blvd. Lot A is accessible via McNeese Street.

Tailgaters are reminded about the State of Louisiana’s no-burn ban and no open flames allowed.

East and West Stadium gates will open at 5:30 p.m. and the Student Tailgate will be located on the east side of the Legacy Center.

On-field pregame begins at 6:40 p.m. with the marching band pregame show, National Anthem, and military fly-over.

Kick-off is at 7:02 p.m. for McNeese vs. Tarleton State