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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — When the Pirate Nation meets you can always find a lot of people wearing purple. That was the case Thursday evening at Jungle Rapids in Wilmington.

For East Carolina head football coach Ruffin McNeill it resembled a homecoming.

“Erlene, my wife, is from Hallsboro. That’s not far away, and I’m from Lumberton originally, so coming to Wilmington is home,” McNeill said. “As a high school student we used to play versus Hoggard and New Hanover, and we’d get beat a lot. When I started coaching at Lumberton we’d play Laney. We didn’t really like coming down here, because we’d typically be on the wrong side of the score.”

McNeill is about to embark on his second season at ECU. In fact spring practice is already underway.

The 2011 football season is not far away. McNeill says the schedule is more than challenging.

“It’s the toughest in the country non-conference wise.” McNeill said. “We play South Carolina in Charlotte. We have North Carolina and Virginia Tech and Navy, and our conference schedule will be tough from top to bottom.”

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