Quick rise to prominence not a surprise to Argonauts

Navarre’s own Quentin Randolph showed some of his new University of West Florida teammates film from 2015 when the team only practiced and held scrimmages. That was the season before the Argonauts’ inaugural campaign.

The program has come a long way.

Two years into playing games that count, the Argos spent the night before Thanksgiving at Pen Air Field gearing up for their second-round NCAA Divsion II playoff game against West Georgia. It takes place Saturday at noon in Carrollton, the winner moving on to play West Alabama or Delta State in the regional final next week.

Randolph can’t believe how much different the team looks now.

“We’ve worked hard and our coaches have given us a great plan. It’s an awesome feeling,” said Randolph, a sophomore wide receiver who also plays on special teams. “To be a second-year program making this much history, it’s amazing.

UWF (8-3) is the fastest Division II program to make the postseason. It made quite an impression in its playoff debut last week, crushing 16th-ranked Wingate 31-0 on the road.

The sixth-seeded team in the South Region, the Argos head out on the road again to battle the seventh-seeded Wolves (9-3), a team they defeated two weeks ago 34-29 in the regular-season finale to set the stage for this playoff opportunity.

UWF should be hosting the game because it’s the higher seed but didn’t meet the Nov. 3 deadline to put in a bid to host a playoff game.

To be fair, at the time, UWF was on the outside looking in at the playoffs as the No. 10  team in the region and still had one game to play. Only the top seven make the playoffs.

Playing home or away, all that matters is the Argos, who were 5-6 a year ago, are one of 16 teams still putting on the pads.

“People have asked me if I’m surprised or if we expected it, and we really did have high expectations this year,” UWF head coach Pete Shinnick said. “In fall camp we told the guys at some point we are going to be in this situation and this is how you handle it. We felt this team had an opportunity and we have been a blessed an opportunistic team.”

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