Talk about a huddle. The front lawn of the Mountainlair will be more like a spread offense when Coach Rich Rodriquez and all 100-plus members of his Top 20 preseason-ranked Mountaineer football team gather to greet fans at WVU s annual FanFest rally at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 3just prior to the home opener with East Carolina the following evening.

The reigning Big East champions have had a busy fall scrimmaging and are ready to kick off the season and defend their rankings.

In addition to a pep talk fromCoach Rod,fans will hear from several team members. And, leading the crowd in cheers and songs, will be the 350-member nationally recognized Mountaineer Marching Band, cheerleaders and Mountaineer mascot.

WVU President David Hardesty and his wife Susan will also be there to wish the team well.

The Mountaineers are poised for a great season,Hardesty said,and with the community and student body behind them, the electricity and excitement is evident. I hope we have a great turnout for our traditional pep rally and a jam-packed Mountaineer Field for our home opener with East Carolina.

Also during the event, WVU s student booster organization known as the Mountaineer Maniacs will be registering student members and handing out Maniac t-shirts to those who sign up. The group, formed in 1999, sits together in 50-yard-line seats at home football games, offers bus trips to away games and other benefits.

Gold and blue rally rags will also be handed out while supplies last, and there will be drawings for two free one-month campus parking passes and other giveaways throughout the evening.

This is going to be a very exciting year for our football team,said Rusty Secrist, president of the Mountaineer Maniacs,so I hope everyone will show their Mountaineer spirit and get out to FanFest and help the football team start the season off right.

Secrist encourages students who havent yet signed on to be a Maniac to do so.

If you haven’t joined yet, be sure to do so as we have added more benefits to becoming a member and we will be traveling to Virginia Tech and Rutgers this year,he added.

FanFest is sponsored by WVU s Office of Institutional Advancement, the Maniacs and the Student Government Association. All Mountaineer fans are invited.

Following the pep rally, WVUp All Night continues for students with movies in the Gluck Theatre ($3 students, $5 non-students) featuring”Shrek 2”at 7 p.m. and”Spider Man 2”at 9:30 p.m., plus free astro bowling, billiards are a comedy caravan all starting at 9 p.m.

There will also be free food (BBQ pork sandwiches, coleslaw and nachos) at 10 p.m. in the Commons Area.

WVU kicks off the season against East Carolina at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 4, at Mountaineer Field. Tickets still remain; call 1-800-WVU-GAME.