Tiger football returns to Lewis Field Stadium


As the summer winds down and classes are set to start in less than two weeks, the Fort Hays State University football team had its first preseason practice Monday morning. With it being the first practice, members of the team and coaching staff were ready to be back on a field once again. 

With only 24 days from the first game of the season, the team is not looking at its opponent yet. Instead, it is looking for the positives going into the season and what it has so far.   

“The couple things that stand out for me with this team compared to last year’s team is the energy and the willingness to put in the work,” said FHSU head coach Chris Brown. “I don’t want this team to find motivation from the coaching staff. I want it to come from the players, and we have had a lot of guys stay over the summer to get work in. So I don’t think that will be a problem.” 

While the first day was about technique for all positions and working on the little things, the players smiled while wearing their helmets. 

For this year’s team, there will be a lot of different faces and new question marks as “holes” need to be filled. 

The quarterbacks and running backs are battling for spots left by former starters Chance Fuller and Adrian Soto. On the offensive line, there will be some adjusting to a young group tasked with protecting the offense. The tight ends will have their work cut out for them trying to replace the talent of All- American Hunter Budke, who declared for the NFL draft after last season. One position that is seeing less turnover is the wide receiver position, with many possible starters coming off numerous reps this past season. 

Defensively the Tigers are ready to get after it behind team leaders Myles Menges and Mason Perez, who will be tasked with leadership roles this season. Menges and Perez represented FHSU at the MIAA Media Day earlier this summer.

“Being able to go to the MIAA Media Day was a cool experience,” Perez said. “But being a leader on this season’s team is something I take seriously. I mean, we have put the hard work in this off-season, and we do have goals this season and we just need to keep putting in the work to achieve them.”

With how things went for the defense last season, many Tigers saw reps in games — which could serve as a springboard for a young defense. For the defense this offseason, the goal was to work on the small things and progressively improve. With most of the defense having experience in the MIAA last season, the players look to quickly build off the foundation that the team experienced in that time. Multiple positions in the defense will still be worked out and battle-tested to put the best 11 on the field for Week 1.

“Watching how the summer went, I have a lot of trust in my guys on the defensive side of the ball,” Brown said. “We need to get these first couple of days under our belts before we need to focus on what we need to prepare for the season.” 

FHSU, which went 3-8 last year, opens the 2023 season on the road at 6 p.m. Aug. 31 against Northeastern State. The Tigers’ first home game will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 7 against Pittsburg State at Lewis Field Stadium.