After escaping Warrensburg with a win last Thursday, the Griffons have their minds set on improving from the last game as they prepare for their home opener against Missouri S&T Sept. 14.
“We got those first game jitters out,” linebacker Yomi Ali said. “We are a pretty young team but we have a lot to prove. Especially after what we accomplished last season.”
One of the stories headlining this week’s upcoming game is the return of former Western offensive coordinator Tyler Fenwick. He’s coming back to Spratt Stadium, except now as the head coach of the S&T Miners.
Fenwick believes that this game is not just about his return to Western, but that the game is a great opportunity to go up against one of the best teams in the MIAA conference.
“There are certainly some emotions going into this game,” Fenwick said. “And it will be a reunion for me leading up to the game between coaches, players and other Western employees.”
As for the Griffons, their mindset for this game is business as usual. Western is looking to start off strong against the Miners and they hope home field advantage can make an impact.
“We want to take it one game at a time,” head coach Jerry Partridge said. “They are an improved program. They used to be in our league and they are much improved since then. Last year they were a 10-1 team.”
Coach Partridge knows that getting a win against his upcoming opponent will not be easy and he feels that Fenwick’s knowledge of the program will play a big role in the game.
“He is going to have great knowledge of our program on both sides of the ball, so we are going to have to contend with that,” Coach Partridge said. “We want to execute a little better and stay away from turnovers.”
Wide out Derek Libby was a key contributor to last week’s win and he feels that Missouri S&T is an opponent that they cannot take lightly.
The Minors were able to move the ball well against their last opponent. Quarterback Reed Brown connected with wideout Melvin Stovall nine times for 150 yards and a touchdown.
Minors running back Zenel Hudson was able to rush for over 100 yards and added to scores to his stat line.
“They took Chadron into double overtime and that is not an easy opponent,” Libby said. “We need to have a little more physicality in the first half. We don’t play soft, so we need to come out really strong and take it to them early.”
Libby believes that if they can execute from top to bottom, it will be hard for the Miners to keep up with them for an entire game.
For tight end Reggie Jordan, this game is a lot bigger than what most expect. He feels that the Miners will not lie down easily and his team will need to be at their best.
“My mindset for this game is that S&T is the most important game of the season,” Jordan said. “We expect their best and they’ll definitely be looking for a win.”
On the defensive side, Ali does not want the “Tyler Fenwick” headline to cloud his mindset on what his team wants to accomplish. Ali said that the team has to be prepared no matter what team they play.
“We want to get better,” Ali said. “It does not matter if we are playing Missouri S&T, the St. Louis Rams, or the Kansas City Chiefs. We are preparing for them so we can get better and better each day.”