Davidson football hopes to break a 12-game losing streak Saturday against a team that doesn’t have a stadium, classrooms or even a campus.
But that doesn’t mean Charlotte’s College of Faith Saints aren’t coming to Richardson Stadium with every intention of prolonging the string.
“We’re going up there to compete,” Saints coach Dell Richardson said. “We want to keep it close and give ourselves a chance.”
Playing its second season of football, College of Faith is a Christian-based online school. According to the school’s website, it offers degree programs “to prepare Christians for leadership positions as pastors, ministers, teachers, mission workers and community servants for the Lord while emphasizing Christian character.”
Charlotte’s College of Faith is an extension of the school’s main campus in West Memphis, Ark., along with other branches in Oklahoma and Florida. While its courses are online only, the Charlotte school is headquartered at the Cosmopolitan Community Church in West Charlotte, where the football team holds meetings and study hall.
Some Saints players are from Charlotte, like defensive end-receiver Desmond Smith, who played at Garinger High. Others come from nearby, like freshman Travis Singleton of Marlboro (S.C.) County High. Some are from farther away, like slot receiver Travis Kuykendall, a Mississippi native who started his college career at Northwest Mississippi Community College.
Kuykendall was thrown out of community college, he said, for “being young, doing young things,” and found a new home at College of Faith in Arkansas. He transferred to the Charlotte branch in 2013.
“This is a good place for players like me,” Kuykendall said. “A lot of good players do crazy stuff when they’re coming out of high school. This is a place for players get a second chance. They take us in.”
College of Faith, which plays its home games at West Mecklenburg High and practices at J.T. Williams Middle School, encourages community involvement. The Saints and their counterparts from Davidson volunteered together at a homeless shelter this week.
Saints players live in apartments in the Charlotte area. Kuykendall said that despite not having dorms, a student union, classrooms or a campus, they’re able to bond.
“We get together all the time, to play (video games), just hang out,” he said. “We go out and have fun, do things together.”
Richardson said the school is still in the accreditation process and isn’t yet affiliated with an athletic conference or is a member in the NCAA or NAIA.
The Saints were 1-7 last season, their lone victory coming against North Georgia Sports Academy, a junior college. College of Faith struggled in other games, including losses against NCAA Division II teams Brevard (69-0) and Tusculum, Tenn. (63-0).
This season’s schedule not only includes Saturday’s game against the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision’s Davidson, but Wesley (Del.), a Division III power that defeated the Charlotte 49ers last season.
And while it has been since November 2012 that Davidson has won a game, the Wildcats will certainly be favored Saturday against the Saints.
Again, that’s fine with Richardson, 42, a Charlotte native who played at North Mecklenburg High and has assistant coaching experience at Johnson C. Smith, Livingstone and N.C. Central.
“We’re no different than (Davidson),” said Richardson. “We just don’t have (almost 200) years behind us.”