Written by Carissa Lucas
The American Southwest Conference is one of the largest NCAA Division III athletic conferences and it’s no small feat for a team to go undefeated through the first half of conference play in the ASC. But that’s exactly what the UMHB football team has done.
The Cru are currently 6-0 for the season and 4-0 in ASC play. In addition to being undefeated, UMHB is currently ranked fourth in the American Football Coaches Association’s Top 25 Poll and fifth in the D3football.com Top 25 Poll. They have been in the top five in both polls since the third week of the season.
The Crusaders have had a good season so far, and out of the many accomplishments his team has had, Head Coach Pete Fredenburg is “tickled that we’re undefeated, and we want to continue to go that way.”
Senior mass communication major Trey Hazelton, a tight end for the Cru, thinks there is much work to be done before the Crusaders start the playoffs.
“I feel like as a team we have been struggling to reach our full potential,” he said. “We have so much more potential than we have shown. We are undefeated right now, but we will need to be better when we get to the playoffs.”
While the Cru have seen success regularly in the first half of the season, they face many tough opponents in the weeks ahead.
“I think every week there’s a new challenge in staying focused and making sure we keep our feet on the ground. We have to do the things that are necessary to prepare each week,” Fredenburg said.
Junior business management major Blake Dempsey, a fullback for UMHB, thinks every week “has to be a step forward.”
“We have to eliminate mistakes,” he said. “At this point in the season we can’t afford to make critical mistakes and take steps back.”
Sophomore Bronson Shaw, a defensive back for the Cru, knows that practice each week is critical to the team’s performance on game days.
“We have to come out every day and practice full speed,” he said. “A team’s product on game day is a direct result of how they practice. We have to not only win on game day but win every day we come together.”
As a part of that everyday practice, Fredenburg has trained his team to not underestimate any of the opponents they may face.
“What we’ve realized now is that we always get everybody’s best effort because of the success the program has had,” he said. “The guys have to realize that they’re going to get every team’s best effort.”
Hazelton believes the Cru need to concentrate on “staying focused, especially during games that we may be overconfident in.”
Dempsey knows that while there are tough opponents out there, “there’s no one really who can get in our way except ourselves.
We put ourselves through mental and physical parts of the game throughout off-season, so that when we’re faced with those obstacles in a game, there’s no obstacle that we can’t overcome,” he said. “Mental toughness is a characteristic that is instilled in UMHB football.”
The Cru will travel to Marshall this upcoming Saturday to take on the East Texas Baptist University Tigers. Kickoff is at 2 p.m.