NORFOLK, VA (WTKR)- Bowl games provide teams with a chance to extend all parts of the football season- practices, film sessions, dinners and one last trip. The Old Dominion seniors are embracing the opportunity to get a few extra weeks in with their teammates and as college football players.
Three sixth-year seniors, Joe Joe Headen, Isaac Weaver and Jordan Young, were part of the Monarchs' first bowl trip in 2016. Now they get set to bookend their college careers with postseason appearances.
"Back then, I didn't know what all went on, truly, in preparing to play in a game," said Weaver, who redshirted during the 2016 campaign. "Now that I do know that, I'm going to be going down there with a very different mindset than I had when I was a freshman."
The Monarchs topped Eastern Michigan, 24-20, in the Bahamas Bowl in their first postseason appearance.
Weaver plays on the offensive line, Young at linebacker and Headen in the defensive backfield. All three endure good-natured ribbing from their younger teammates about being the elder statesmen on the roster, which they take in stride, but the last three weeks have provided them with a chance to get some additional time with teammates.
"You only get so many times during the season to play," Headen said. "You only get 12 times guaranteed, so to get this bonus one game, it's definitely something that I'm trying to take one game at a time and really make the most out of for sure."
"The end of the road is very much in sight," added Weaver. "It's a different feeling and you kind of take a different perspective when you go to practice, go to lifts, get to have some film time with the guys."
The recent years of the journey have certainly tested the resolve of these seniors. 2019 saw the Monarchs finish 1-11, while they didn't field a season in 2020 because of the pandemic. After starting this campaign 1-6, ODU rattled off five straight victories to earn bowl eligibility. Players are buying into Ricky Rahne's 1-0 mentality, as the Monarchs have not lost since October 16.
Now, they have one more chance to extend the streak and get a win to conclude the 2021 season. Tulsa stands in the way as Old Dominion's Myrtle Beach Bowl opponent.
"It would mean everything," Weaver said of a hopeful bowl victory. "It would be the culmination of our 1-0 attitude, our 1-0 mentality, so any time you get an opportunity to do that, it means a ton, especially with the fact that this is the last time I'll put on this uniform."
"It would mean the world to me," Headen said. "That's just something we've been working on this whole season and how the season was going, downs and ups, it would mean a lot for sure."
Old Dominion and the Golden Hurricane kick off Monday at 2:30 PM in the Myrtle Beach Bowl. News 3 is making the trip to South Carolina, with live reports beginning on Friday. Be sure to catch "ODU Road to the Myrtle Beach Bowl" on Sunday at 6:00 PM on WTKR.