It’s been a long time since there was this much optimism at McMurry’s Moore Stadium before the football season.

Head coach Jordan Neal is in year three of the rebuild of the program, and he’s expecting to see his team turn the corner.

The War Hawks start with nationally-ranked Birmingham Southern, who is bringing the kind of test Neal wants his team to face.

Neal said, “Absolutely, one of our goals as a program is to schedule tough competition. I know Birmingham Southern well. (They are a) great program. They are really, really good offensively. They are coming off the best season that they have ever had. They know what it’s like to be in the playoffs and be in critical ball games. We’ll definitely have our work cut out for us. I do believe that teams that succeed early on in the season are the ones that are extremely well conditioned and have the ability to eliminate mistakes. That’s what our focus is going into that first ballgame on September 3rd.”

The War Hawks and Birmingham Southern meet in Little Rock, Arkansas on Saturday at 1 p.m.