SEMO takes on longtime rival SIU in ‘War for the Wheel’

Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 5:54 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 2, 2021 at 6:03 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - Southeast Missouri State University will take on longtime rival Southern Illinois for its season opener on Thursday, September 2.

The “War for the Wheel” starts at 6:30 p.m. at Houck Field.

The university announced on Wednesday, September 1 that Houck Field’s south grandstand would close immediately due to safety concerns. That also means no one can enter through any of the main gates on the South side of the stadium.

Spectators will need to enter Houck Field through either of the two North gates. They said there will be shuttles and golf carts helping fans get from the parking areas to the entrances.

A gameday timeline includes:

  • 8 a.m. - Athletics Ticket Office opens
  • 3:45 p.m. - Ticket Booth in front of Houck Field Main Entrance opens
  • 4 p.m. - East End Zone opens (Touchdown Plaza members only). Bellevue Street Fest, Redhawks Club Hospitality Tent and DJ with live music and entertainment begin
  • 4:30 p.m. - Redhawk Walk
  • 5 p.m. - Gates open at Houck Field
  • 5:30 p.m. - Food and beverage service for Field Goal Club begins
  • 6:20 p.m. - Air Force B-2 Bomber flyover
  • 6:30 p.m. - “War for the Wheel”

Saluki fans will be heading to Cape Girardeau or watching in southern Illinois. We talked to a Carbondale restaurant owner excited for football season, as well as the president of the Dawg Pound who said members of the group will be carpooling across the river.

Redhawks met with the media in August and talked about being the underdog in some games this season.

“Being an underdog makes you hungry,” said Omardrick Douglas, SEMO linebacker. “Coach Tuke has a saying, ‘A hungry dog is a dangerous dog,’ so we just take that with a grain of salt and are ready to play ball.”

“Everyone is hating on you and it just gives me energy, just motivation to prove people wrong,” said Lawrence Johnson, SEMO safety.

According to Southeast, a total of 97 players were on the roster when they began their preseason camp.

SEMO returns 15 starters, including eight on offense and seven on defense.

They will also bring back all eight of their All-Ohio Valley Conference performers from 2020.

After COVID-19 led to may challenges with SEMO playing seven conference games last spring, they said football for SEMO seems to headed toward normalcy.

“It feels good as it’s ever felt to be back out here on the field,” said eighth-year SEMO Head Coach Tom Matukewicz. “I always appreciate just a more traditional and normal practice. I can’t believe the great weather we are getting right now and am very thankful.”

The first full week of camp for the Redhawks began on August 9.

The meeting between SEMO and SIU in a series that dates back to 1909 when the teams crossed the Mississippi River by boat to play.

The game is now known as the “War for the Wheel” in reference to the ship’s wheel trophy which goes to the winner.

It’s currently in Carbondale after the Salukis beat SEMO on October 30, 2020.

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