The Texas Wesleyan Rams football team is looking forward to their first official game of the season.

After Saturday’s 29-16 scrimmage win against the Southwestern University Pirates, players and coaches are optimistic about the season and excited to play the Kansas Wesleyan University Coyotes on the road.

Offensive coordinator Kyle Cox thinks that Saturday’s scrimmage is a good sign for the season, especially considering the huge setbacks that the team faced throughout the night.

“Saturday’s scrimmage was the culmination of a very long, tough summer,” Cox wrote in an email.  “No one in the NAIA has worked as hard as our student athletes have, and for them to get a win on Saturday was the perfect ending to a long hiatus from football. The biggest takeaway from the scrimmage was seeing our players face adversity. From the lightning delay that postponed the scrimmage by almost three hours, to the first play of the game being a TD that was called back, to the first play of offense being a loss of yards for a safety — our players were faced with a lot of adversity in the beginnings of the scrimmage.”

Sophomore forensic accounting major and kicker/punter Gregory Blaser was grateful for the fan support on Saturday night, and is looking forward to more from the fans this season.

“The win this past Saturday hopefully lets our student body know the amount of work and long hours we’ve put in during this preseason,” Blaser wrote in an email, “hopefully that will encourage more students to come to the games and show some school spirit on Saturday nights. There’s a strong correlation between the support from the student body and the amount of effort and excitement on the field.”

Sophomore mass communication major and wide receiver, Brandon Rolfe, scored two touchdowns on Saturday. He wrote in an email that the scrimmage showed the fans how far the team has come while still demonstrating how far they would like to go before the end of this season.

“Fans can look forward to a completely new team with a new mindset,” Rolfe wrote.  “This is a team that is gonna shock a lot of people.  Our opponents this season are all very good football teams but they are beatable.  Our team is practicing and watching film religiously to beat the number 4 team in the nation. We’re approaching this game with a “Why Not us?” Mentality.”

Kansas Wesleyan is ranked No. 4 in the NAIA. The Coyotes were 10-0 in the regular season last year, according to kwucoyotes.com. Despite this, the Rams are optimistic about the game.  Quarterback Donovan Isom wrote in an email that the team is looking forward to the challenge Kansas Wesleyan presents.

“I believe that everyone is on the same page about what needs to get done this season,” Isom wrote.  “With a great week of practice, we will perform in the game. Everyone is ready to roll for this Saturday and we’re all excited.”

The game will be the team’s first away game of the season and will be followed by a month of away games before finally returning to a homefield game on Oct. 5 against Southwestern Assemblies of God University.

Head coach Joe Prud’homme wrote in an email that while this is a setback, it also provides opportunities for a great opener to the 2019 season.

“We are playing a HIGHLY ranked opponent and that gives us the opportunity to get our season kick started,” Prud’homme wrote.  “Not many programs get this chance and we plan to take advantage of it. We will play wide open and hold nothing back.”

Blaser wrote that he thinks playing such a highly ranked team can actually prove to be an advantage for the beginning of the Rams’ season.

“I believe our opponents underestimate us,” Blaser wrote.  “They don’t expect us to play like the team we have become. I believe that’s gives us an advantage because they will prepare less thinking we will be an easy win as we have been viewed in the past, when actually we have the talent and coaching to be conference champions.”

Above all else, Cox is excited to get the season rolling and see what tricks the Rams might have up their sleeves.

“The first road game is always the hardest because you’re still not in the rhythm of the season yet,” Cox wrote.  “Our student athletes have been taking care of their academic work in Study Hall all week to make sure once we step on that bus Friday morning to leave for Salina, Kansas, it’s all about winning a football game. Usually it’s tough to keep everyone focused during a long bus ride, but I have a feeling our kids will be locked in and ready to shock the NAIA come Saturday. I can’t wait.”

 

The Rams will be playing Kansas Wesleyan at 6 p.m. Saturday. To see the game, and for more information, go to ramsports.net.

Collier Ricks warms up before last week’s scrimmage. The Rams face No. 4 Kansas Wesleyan on Saturday at 6 p.m. This will be the team’s first official game of the season.
Photo by Amanda Roach