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Hampden Sydney coming to town

A college football game won’t be played in Selma this weekend, but the city will serve as home away from home to the Hampden-Sydney College football team.

The Tigers (7-1) are en route to a match up with Huntingdon College (8-0) on Saturday in Montgomery. The team will arrive in Selma at about 5 p.m. on Friday.

“We’re definitely excited about that because they have all those accommodations in Montgomery, but they chose to stay here because of our history,” said Candace C. Johnson, Selma-Dallas County Tourism Director.

The group will receive a brief tour of the city that includes the Edmund Pettus Bridge, Brown Chapel A.ME. Church and other sights if their tight schedule allows.

Though history has a role in the Tigers’ stopover, strategy also played a role.

“I don’t like being too close. We thought being an hour away would be good,” said Hampden Sydney coach Marty Favret. “(We) didn’t want to be too close to the enemy, and it’ll probably be good to be in Selma then head over there Saturday.”

The Tigers will spend Friday night at the Ramada Inn and eat at Golden Ranch. The First Presbyterian Church will prepare breakfast for them on Saturday before they depart for Montgomery.

“The obvious (benefit) is that they’re staying in our hotel and eating in our restaurants,” said Johnson. “But they’ll get to see what history we have here. Part of the tour is also going to give them the whole scheme of our historical stuff — not just civil rights, but all of our architecture — and they’ll get to walk the streets where history was made.”

Favret’s relationship with Dr. Donnie Russell and his family helped pave the way for the Tigers’ trip to Selma.

Russell’s oldest son, Mac Russell, was Favret’s first quarterback when he took over the Hampden-Sydney football program in 2000. Favret and Donnie Russell quickly built a friendship and still remain close.

“I’m an Alabama fan, but this is exciting to me,” said Russell. “Them coming to town is just as exciting to me as us playing LSU.”

According to the American Football Coaches Poll, Huntingdon is No. 28 and Hampden-Sydney is No. 31. The Tigers are off to their best start in 35 years, and the Hawks have reached their highest win total in the program’s six-year history.