PRINT BY MAKENNA ALLEN
Last weekend in Tiger football, a 41-3 win over Missouri Southern State University had the Tigers feeling confident and motivated. As the defense clicked into gear and the offense made steps in the right direction, the Fort Hays team leveled their record for the season to 2-2. This week, they hope to bring home another win from Edmond, Ok.. However, their opponent, the University of Central Oklahoma, steps forward looking to go 3-2, as well.
Though the Tigers are coming off of a blowout win in last week’s game, head coach, Chris Brown, recognizes that the team still has some changes to make.
“We’ve still got to play a lot harder. We’ve still got to play more physical,” Brown said. “A lot of times we just see guys not doing their job to their potential and not being in the right positions or the right spot.”
As the Tigers make these shifts, they must maintain motivation. According to wide receiver, Harley Hazlett, the UCO Bronchos will be ready for a win after their 59-10 loss to Northwest Missouri.
“It’s going to be a tough game. It’s their homecoming,” Hazlett said. “They just came off a big loss so they’re going to be hungry and wanting it.”
Even despite this significant defeat, the Bronchos were not far from their offensive seasonal averages. The Bronchos average 167.5 rushing yards per game compared to the Tigers’ 123.5-yards. This average results in a total of 670 rushing yards for the Bronchos during the 2019 season. As the Tigers continue to push to get their run game going, they hold just 494 rushing yards for the season.
Both teams rank fairly closely in average points per game: UCO with 34-points and Fort Hays with 33-points. During week four of the season, the Tigers sat well above that average, scoring 41-points against a Missouri Southern team that was unable to get on the board until late in the third quarter. The Bronchos, on the other hand, fell below their team average, scoring just 10 points against the No. 2 ranked Northwest Missouri Bearcats.
According to Brown, the match-up in Edmond could fall either way.
“It is a battle every single year,” Brown said. “Last year’s game was a 15-0 game. It was all field goals, no touchdowns. It’s always a battle with them.”
Indeed, last time the two teams met at Lewis Field Stadium, kicker, Dante Brown, stood in the limelight as he took credit for all 15 points on the board.
For the Tigers this year, a defeat of the Bronchos will mean stepping up against a team that is solid both offensively and defensively.
“We need to find a way to win this ball game. They’re a very good football team. They do things in the right way. They’re coached very well,” Brown said. “They’re very big up front, both sides of the ball. They’re very skilled in all their skill positions. They’ve got some speed too. And their quarterback is solid. He’s a very good football player.”
However, it’s not just one quarterback that the Tigers have to worry about….
This year, the Bronchos’ offense is unique in that it rotates through three different quarterbacks based on the opponent and which player is performing well. As a result, the Tiger defense must be prepared to play against three versions of the Broncho offense depending on whether Will Collins, Keats Calhoon, or Chandler Garrett takes the field.
“I believe that we will definitely change for quarterbacks. Different quarterbacks will see different things,” linebacker, Drew Harvey, said.
To prepare for each offense, Harvey suggests that the defense has been breaking down film extensively in order to determine necessary positioning.
This uniting of the defense is not a situation that is unique to this week’s game, however. In fact, Brown believes that his defense has grown to find new levels of success. Harvey concurs with this statement.
“We started becoming a family,” Harvey said. “Before, we were just a bunch of new guys. Defense took the biggest hit here at losing instrumental people so we just had to come together and now that we have, it’s about to be a great thing because we’re finally starting to feel like a family.”
Where to Watch:
Tiger fans are hoping to see great things from both the offense and the defense this week as Fort Hays travels south to Oklahoma. Don’t miss kickoff at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5. Check the Fort Hays Athletics website for play-by-play updates or tune in to the MIAA-Network with your season pass.