MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - For football programs like the ones at Huntingdon College and Faulkner University, the goal is not to compete with SEC powerhouses like Auburn and Alabama for fans and revenue.
"We don't try to compete," Charlie Boren, Faulkner's head football coach. "What we try to do is make it an opportune time for our fans."
Boren said the smaller schools often have a strong core following from alums and local community members.
Huntingdon's head football coach, Mike Turk, shared the same sentiment.
"We have a good nucleus of Huntingdon people," Turk said. "The Old Cloverdale neighborhood always comes out and supports, and we have a great student fan base."
Turk said his players' parents are also very supportive. With Huntingdon's program only being established 14 years ago and Faulkner's football program celebrating its 10th year this fall, both teams are focused on establishing themselves and continuing to grow.
However, while the smaller colleges don't depend too heavily on football for revenue, adding football has substantially affected enrollment.
"Huntingdon's enrollment has increased drastically since football's been added," Turk said. "As well as other sports. It's a big deal, and athletics definitely has a place here at Huntingdon."
Boren agreed that many students are drawn to the school because of its growing athletic department, but he also attributes the strength of the support for his team to the university itself.
"People are drawn to Faulkner's mission, as well as the athletics," Boren said.
The Faulkner Eagles played their first home game last Thursday, which Boren said was scheduled intentionally to keep fans from having to choose between them and Auburn and Alabama. They will return to their home field on Saturday.
For the Huntingdon Hawks, this fall has more riding on it than usual.
"We have to defend our conference title from last year, which is something we haven't done before," Turk said. "It's exciting. We're excited."
The Hawks play their first home game this Saturday against one of their biggest rivals, Birmingham-Southern.