“There’s no place like home.”
That was the famous quote spoken by Dorothy three times as she was trying to return to her home in Kansas in the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz”.
For the Delta State University Statesmen, Cleveland, Miss. is their home and there has been no place like it and no place they would rather be. The Statesmen are a perfect 3-0 this season playing in the friendly confines of Travis E. Parker Field at Horace McCool Stadium. The Statesmen have played some tough teams as their last two games have been against teams ranked in either the American Football Coaches Association Poll or the D2football.com Poll.
The Statesmen defeated Tarleton State, then ranked No. 14 in the AFCA Poll and No. 17 in the D2football.com Poll, 38-36 on Oct. 19 and most recently defeated the defending national champion Valdosta State University Blazers 63-55 Saturday in Gulf South Conference action. VSU was ranked No. 22 in the D2football.com Poll. The Statesmen defeated the Blazers in front of an estimated crowd of 7,213 for homecoming.
DSU’s first home game was on Sept. 28 when the Statesmen cruised past Florida Tech 52-31 during the annual Pig Pickin” festivities in front of a season-high 8,012 fans.
The Statesmen will be playing their final home game of the regular season on Saturday against Concordia College from Selma, Ala.
Delta State head football coach Todd Cooley has stressed during the year how important it is for the team to defend its house.
Cooley said the players simply enjoy playing at Parker Field-McCool Stadium and for Delta State as a whole.
“They’re comfortable,” Cooley said. “They take a lot of pride in playing out there. Homecoming last week, you had a bunch of former players coming back. It means something to them. This logo (DSU logo) means a lot to us. I think when you put that logo out at midfield and you talk about locking the gates at the stadium, that’s got to mean something. If you’re ever going to build something it has to start at home. You have to have a presence at home first.”
One aspect that has made DSU’s home field advantage so key is the support the Statesmen has received from the school’s students and fans in the community. In three home, DSU’s has an average home attendance of 6,116 fans, which is ranked an impressive 21st in the nation out of the 167 schools listed in Division II football.
“Our fans have gotten bigger and better each game,” Cooley said. “The picnic area was rocking the other night at the end of the game. Our fans were involved in the game, and I was excited about that. We’re starting to build that here to where people want to come to watch Delta State play at home and we want to build that environment where we want to play here.
“Our administration is doing every thing in their power to try to get more games in Cleveland, Mississippi and that’s what we’re trying to get done,” Cooley added.