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Duquesne Football Eyes NEC Title In Abbreviated Spring Season

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Like most small-school college football programs, Duquesne postponed its season last fall with the hope of playing this spring.

Right now, the Dukes aren't just playing – they're winning.

After a dominating performance at home on March 21 against Long Island, Duquesne is off to a 3-0 start in the abbreviated NEC Conference schedule. They have a shot at winning an NEC title this spring, and they say a championship will carry the same weight regardless of when it is captured.

Duquesne Football
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

"When that ball is kicked off, they don't know what time of the year it is," said Duquesne coach Jerry Schmitt. "They just want to play football and they're enjoying it."

"Any time you get to represent your school and go out there and play with your teammates for a championship, that means something," said Duquesne quarterback Joe Mischler. "Whether or not it's a COVID year or whether it's in the fall or spring, it still carries that same weight, that same importance. That's how we're going to treat it."

One of the main reasons why the Dukes are flying high is the addition of Mischler, who transferred from Ohio University. Mischler was a two-time Pennsylvania Player of the Year at Erie Cathedral Prep, where his dad is the head coach.

"Being a coach's kid helps a lot," Mischler said. "When I was born, I didn't have the blue teddy bears in my crib. It was a football."

Although it's a four-game season, the Dukes have a chance to finish undefeated with a win on Sunday, which is something Schmitt wasn't sure could ever happen.

"When the director of athletics talked about this last fall, this was a day-by-day situation. It's literally an hour-by-hour situation at times," Schmitt said. "But if you embrace that, you can enjoy it. I'm enjoying coaching football."

The Dukes have already clinched a spot in the NEC title game. With a win Sunday at Bryant, the title game would be he at Art Rooney Field on Duquesne's campus.

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