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Birmingham-Southern opens 2010 football campaign Saturday against LaGrange College in Panther Stadium

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—The Birmingham-Southern Panthers will kick off their 2010 season on Saturday, playing host to the Panthers of LaGrange College. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. in 1,600-seat Panther Stadium on the BSC campus.

This will be the fourth season of football since Birmingham-Southern reinstated the program in 2007 after a 68-year absence. Third-year head coach Eddie Garfinkle will have 19 seniors on this year’s squad, the first true senior class since the program restarted in 2007.

“Our football team has worked very hard the past nine months preparing for this game,” said Garfinkle, who is 7-13 in his two seasons as head coach. “We are a much improved football team. We just have to go out and play the game the way it is supposed to be played.”

Garfinkle said the 19 seniors will be game captains for the LaGrange game.

Birmingham-Southern returns 19 starters from a team that finished 4-6 overall last season and 3-4 in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference. The Panther offense will be led by senior quarterback Joe Thigpen, who passed for 1,205 yards and five touchdowns last season and rushed for another 468 yards and six touchdowns. Also returning on offense is senior tailback and leading rusher Walter Arrington, who ran for 636 yards and eight touchdowns last year. He also led the team in all-purpose yards with 1,523. Anchoring the offensive line is senior Ryan Creel.

Five of the team’s leading tacklers all return on defense, including junior safety Andrew Shannon, senior linebacker Ryan Carelson, sophomore defensive back Cole Rudder, junior linebacker Dustin Massey, and junior defensive lineman Bryan Jackson.

Thigpen, Arrington, Creel, Shannon and Jackson all earned SCAC All-Conference honors last season.

LaGrange is starting its fifth season of football, and finished 5-5 last year. The Panthers return five starters on offense and three on defense. They advanced to the NCAA Division III playoffs following the 2008 season.

LaGrange has beaten Birmingham-Southern each of the last two seasons on the last play of the game.

Birmingham-Southern football will feature live streaming Internet broadcasts for all 10 of its games this season. Play-by-play will be provided by Josh Caray.

The free online broadcasts, as well as Live Stats, will be accessible through www.bscsports.net and will begin approximately 15 minutes before kickoff of each game, both at home and on the road.

Caray, the son and grandson of legendary broadcasters Skip and Harry Caray, has previously worked with the San Angelo Colts, Rome Braves, Clear Channel Atlanta, Guilford College, Gwinnett Braves, RJPSports.com, and CSS.

After LaGrange, Birmingham-Southern travels to Montgomery’s Crampton Bowl Sept. 11 for an interstate game against Faulkner University at 11 a.m.