FHSU Football sets sights on NCAA Playoffs after back-to-back conference titles

STORY BY MAKENNA ALLEN

The days are shorter and the breeze is a little bit cooler.  School is back in session and so is FHSU football. With less than two weeks left until the first game of the season, players and coaches alike are kicking it into high gear as they prepare to take the field at the University of Central Missouri.  

The stakes are high with the kickoff of this season as the Tigers are expected to build upon the successes of their previous two seasons.  According to Heach Coach Chris Brown, the two consecutive MIAA Championship titles serve as motivation for the team. However, he also emphasizes the fact that the 2019 season is a new year for Tiger football.  For this group, the season is about more than just the MIAA Championship title.

“The last few years, ‘17 and ‘18, those kids worked their tails off and did the same exact things that these kids are doing but we’re working for something more than just a conference championship this year,” Brown said.  “That’s expected now. We’re looking to win some playoff games and you can see the intensity level rise a little bit.”

The intensity may be increasing but Brown believes that his team can handle it.

“They’re hard working.  They’re committed. They grind every day,” Brown said.  “They’re a physical group. They’re a group of smart kids that know the game very well.”

 A portion of this knowledge of the game arises from the team’s increased experience on the field.  This year’s team includes the greatest number of seniors the program has seen since Brown began coaching the Tigers in 2011.  

This season, Brown looks to returners DJ Hickman, Charles Tigner, Jordan Starks, Sheldon Schmidt, and Tanner Hoekman to help the Tigers on their way to a national championship title.  He also cites junior, Sterling Swopes, and transfer linebacker from the University of Kansas, Drew Harvey, as crucial elements of the team.  

Ultimately, Brown believes it will take an effort from the entire team to reach the next level of play in the MIAA Conference.

“People are going to be gunning for us,” Brown said.  “We won the conference championship back to back two years now and people want us.  They want to take us down.”

But the Tigers won’t go down without a fight.  That fight begins Thursday, Sept. 5, when the team travels to Warrensburg to take on the University of Central Missouri.  

For Tiger fans, however, the battle begins with the first home game at Lewis Field Stadium.  Brown hopes for a strong showing of support as the Tigers kickoff against Missouri Western State University.

“We need those fans that come to every game and support us,” Brown said.  “We need their energy, as well, to help us in the home games.”

Get ready, Tiger Football Fans, kickoff in the first home game of the season is set for 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 12.

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