By Garret Smith
Cru football has packed way more than its share of records and history into the first 12 years of what is a relatively young football program.
It was started at the university in 1997. Then, in 2002 UMHB matched Hardin-Simmons’ skill level, winning the ASC and birthing a rivalry. In 2004, UMHB football made its first televised appearance in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl in Salem, Va., after upsetting the powerhouse of Division III football, the Mount Union Purple Raiders.
Last year, the Crusaders bounced back from numerous injuries to advance to the national semifinals, the biggest sporting event ever to be held at UMHB. But that was only the beginning.
The 2009 football season has the potential to be the biggest season in school history, and possibly conference history, starting with game one. With its win over Southern Nazarene Sept. 12, in Bethany, Okla., Crusader football clenched its 100th program victory. It was also Coach Pete Fredenburg’s 100th win at UMHB, as he is the only head coach the
program has had.
The game stirred up state rivalry between Texas and Oklahoma once again. Last year, The Cru won the contest 30 to 7.
The next two games will be experimental, as UMHB will face two programs that have undergone coaching changes for this season. The Texas Lutheran Bulldogs have never been much of a threat to UMHB, and it would take more than a coaching change for them to become one. McMurry, on the other hand, is hoping to knock off the kings of the ASC, UMHB and Hardin-Simmons University.
While new head coach Hal Mumme is optimistic about his air- raid style offense (a style that has given UMHB trouble in post-conference play), his career record and reputation as a program killer do not appear promising to McMurry. But then again, when you’re at the bottom of the barrel, what’s to lose? Losing games is a tradition McMurry will probably keep this year.
Other games on the schedule will also bring some historical tension. Mississippi College has become a recent thorn in the side of the Cru football team, and they have been known to complain often about the UMHB Couch Cru.
However, after two years of embarrassing losses to the Cru, the Choctaw fans should blow their noses, wipe their tears and focus on their team’s mistakes, not the other team’s “mean fans.”
UMHB will travel to Brownwood to face usual pushover, Howard Payne. However, those who forget history are destined to repeat it, and UMHB’s last conference loss was dealt by Howard Payne in Brownwood in 2005. UMHB also seeks to avenge last year’s non-conference 40-28 loss to Southern Oregon in this year’s Oct. 24 Homecoming game.
USA Today ranked UMHB third in the national preseason poll, followed by HSU in fourth place. D3Football.com, the authority on all things about Division III Football, ranked UMHB third, placing HSU in fifth place. While most teams in the ASC may criticize UMHB’s players and fans, they should first explain why they are not ranked. Put up or shut up.
There is no doubt that Pete’s troops will bring wins to the Alma Mater with full force in this milestone.