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Posted: August 15, 2013 8:30 p.m.

Rams help Mercer football get started

Two former Newton High School football standouts are ready to help start a new era at Mercer University.

Nick Hardeman and Durante Carter, two former Rams defensive backs who graduated in 2012, are on the first Mercer football team to take the field in 72 years.

The Bears restart their program in Macon Aug. 31, hosting Reinhardt at 6 p.m. in front of a sold out crowd at the 10,000-seat Mercer University Stadium. The demand for the game, which sold out in just 27 minutes, is so great that Mercer is selling seating in the grass berm behind the north end zone Monday at 10 a.m. for a cost of $7 each.

These tickets will be available online only attickets.mercer.edu by clicking on the "Mercer v Reinhardt" image. All orders are subject to online convenience and mailing fees.

Mercer will reopen its football program in the Pioneer Football League in 2013, before moving to the Southern Conference in 2014. The Bears were selected 11th in the 12-team PFL preseason rankings, ahead of another beginning program in Stetson, and 12 points behind Valparaiso for the No. 10 spot. San Diego was the conference’s top-ranked team with five first-placed votes.

"It's an exciting day for our program," said Mercer football head coach Bobby Lamb. "Once we get everyone situated today, the exciting part starts tomorrow at 7 a.m. with our conditioning test."

Carter and Hardeman will figure into the Bears’ defensive plans. Hardeman was a first-team All-region selection in 2012, and Carter was a three-year letterman for NHS, which reached the playoffs in 2009 and 2012.

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