History will be made Sept. 3, 2016 when the University of West Florida football team opens its inaugural season on the road against Ave Maria, an NAIA school in Naples.
The first home game in program history is scheduled for a week later when the Argonauts welcome Missouri S&T out of the Great Lakes Valley Conference to town. The game will be played at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium, which will be the home of the Argos for at least the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
Chowan is the other non-conference opponent on the Argos’ schedule. UWF will travel to North Carolina to battle the Hawks on Sept. 17.
The Argos’ first Gulf South Conference game is against national power Valdosta State on Sept. 24 at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium. The Blazers have won three NCAA Division II national championships.
October begins with a game on the first of the month against Florida Tech in Pensacola. The Panthers have two former Navarre standouts on their roster in Brad Leggett and Chris Stapleton.
UWF is on the road the next two weeks, playing at Mississippi College (Oct. 8) and at Delta State (Oct. 15).
Homecoming is slated for Oct. 22 against Shorter and West Alabama comes to town a week later.
The final road game of the regular season is Nov. 5 against West Alabama. The regular season ends with a home game against 2014 national semifinalist West Georgia.
The GSC is considered one of the toughest conferences in the nation. Four teams made the D-II playoffs a year ago.
“We believe the Gulf South Conference is the toughest football conference in the country, based on the fact that four teams made the playoffs in 2014, so we’ll be challenged every week in the GSC,” UWF head coach Pete Shinnick said. “I think it’s a very challenging schedule for a first-year program.”