CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - It’s a special week for Teal Nation as the Coastal Carolina Football team will play in its first-ever bowl game this weekend. The No. 9 Chanticleers will clash with the No. 23 Liberty Flames in the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl in Orlando on Saturday, Dec. 26.
WHAT IS THE CURE BOWL?
The Cure Bowl is one of the newer bowl games, having only been around since 2015. However, it is perhaps one of the most significant of the entire bowl season.
The game serves as a platform to raise awareness for cancer research and recognize those that are fighting cancer or have survived cancer. Funds raised from the Cure Bowl directly benefit cancer research organizations such as the Breast Cancer Research Foundation
Since the first game in 2015, the Cure Bowl has helped raise a collective $3.8 million dollars to benefit breast cancer research. Coastal Carolina head coach Jamey Chadwell touched on the meaning of his team having the chance to help the cause this weekend.
“For us to be able to be in a bowl game that contributes to finding a cure for that, that means something special to us,” Chadwell said. “I know a lot of our players have had to battle that personally and I’m glad we can represent that. Hopefully with the matchup that we have being a top 25, this will bring more and more people watching the game on ESPN and more and more folks that will see what we’re about and what the Cure Bowl is about. We’ll be able to contribute to that and help fundraise to help try to find a cure for that and we’re thankful we can play a small part in that.”
EVERY GAME IS A CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Coastal’s upcoming contest with Liberty is one of the most highly anticipated bowl games this season. In Sports Illustrated’s watchability rankings for all the bowls, the matchup came in at No. 1.
The Chants have treated every week like a championship game and have the postgame celebrations to boot. That mindset is staying the same ahead of Saturday as Coastal looks to cap off a historical season.
“This year we’re 11-0 and like we say to the guys that stayed, this is part of the process,” senior defensive lineman CJ Brewer said. “Every day isn’t going to be good but as long as our good days outweigh our bad, that’s just how we feel. We’ve just trusted the process.
“We have an opportunity to do something that’s never been done in the history of our program and has never happened in the history of the Sun Belt,” added Chadwell. “It’s a special deal for us and to play a rival as I mentioned, we’re treating it like it’s a championship game. We’re playing for a championship this week. That’s what we’ve done all season long and we wouldn’t change that.”
MCCALL LIGHTING UP THE SUN BELT
CCU redshirt-freshman quarterback Grayson McCall came out of nowhere and lit up the Sun Belt Conference this season. His stellar play garnered him a number of postseason honors and has the Chants one win away from finishing 12-0.
McCall has been one of the most efficient quarterbacks not just in the Sun Belt but the entire country. His passer rating and completion percentage put him 6th and 11th in the nation respectively.
He’s thrown 23 touchdowns to just two interceptions and has added six scores on the ground, outstanding numbers for a freshman.
Today, McCall had his first media availability of the 2020 season and spoke on some of his major strengths that have led to his play on the field.
“That stuff just comes with time. The spring was really big for me with me building up my confidence,” said McCall. “The swagger and stuff comes with that and my teammates give me confidence. I would say my biggest strength is leadership with my team and being out there and talking to my offensive line in the middle of drives and keeping the guys up. Stuff like that is really big so I would say that would be my biggest strength.”
Some of the honors McCall has received include Sun Belt Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year. He was also named a freshman All-American by the Athletic.
THE HONORABLE MR. JACKSON
CCU’s Black Swarm defense has also played a huge role in the Chants’ undefeated run. One of the senior stars in Tarron Jackson has had quite the journey from Aiken to Conway. Now, in his fifth year in the Coastal program he’s starting to see years of hard work come to fruition..
Jackson has established himself as one of the premier defenders in the nation. The senior was named an All-American by both ESPN and the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
Jackson was also named Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year and currently leads Coastal in both tackles for a loss and sacks. Both Jackson and Chadwell shared their thoughts on how great it is to see years of hard work be recognized.
“You put a lot of work in and sometimes you don’t see the results,” said Jackson. “My first couple of years it was just working and working and I wasn’t seeing the results. I’ve been stacking days and now I’m seeing some of that progress and some of the results and it’s a blessing.”
“He works every day like he’s trying to earn a spot, like he’s trying to earn a scholarship, and like he’s trying to prove his self to coaches,” Chadwell said of Jackson. “That epitomizes what you want your team to be about. You want them to be hungry all the time and even though they get accolades you want them to keep striving to be better.”
Kickoff from Camping World Stadium in Orlando is set for 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.