If the smell of barbecue and slow-roasted pork hasn’t filled the air around the Rocky Mount Athletic Complex, it’s bound to have that thick odor soon enough.
The annual Down East Viking Football Classic kicks off today at 4 p.m. between Elizabeth City State and St. Augustine’s, the 15th time Elizabeth City State has faced an opponent at its home-away-from-home.
“Every year they bring a different team in, so it helps the community and helps the area of Rocky Mount to just see some really good HBCU football,” St. Augustine’s coach Michael Costa said.
The event has become more than just a football game in recent years. It brings in hundreds of fans and alums, who descend on the city for some good food and some good football.
Tickets for the event are $15 in advance and $20 at the gate, while parking ranges from $10 to $50. The Classic began in 1998, and Elizabeth City State has won six times, including the past four meetings.
Last year, the Vikings cruised to a 49-7 victory against Livingstone. Former Rocky Mount High standout Keith Strickland scored the opening touchdown, and the Vikings rolled from there.
As for this season, Elizabeth City State (2-2) and St. Augustine (3-1) are both riding high.
The two teams have played twice before in the Down East Viking Football Classic.
St. Augustine won in 2005, and the Vikings won in 2008 – the victory that started their current winning streak.
Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or email@example.com