As the fall semester begins, the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football team begins their quest of winning their first NCAA Division III National Championship. The Cru are coming off an 11-1 overall record last year and have won the American Southwest Conference championship.
There are multiple new and returning faces to the UMHB football program including Coach Luke Howard and Jack Johnson.
Junior exercise and sport science education major Baylor Mullins, who plays safety for the team, is ready for football to begin.
“I am very excited to get this season started. Although we won the conference last year, we didn’t win the national championship which is what we are looking for around here,” he said. “We still have tons of improvement, but I feel like this could be the year.”
Junior exercise and sport science major Matthew McVey is a tight end for the Cru and is ready to hit the field.
“I’m definitely excited about what this year has in store for us and continuing the tradition of winning the ASC championship along with making a run for the national championship. We have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball; we also have a lot of returners coming back mixed in with some new faces,” he said.
According to D3Football.com, the Cru are ranked fourth in the nation in their preseason poll.
Other familiar football powerhouses at the top of the rankings includes: the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, University of Mount Union, Linfield College and Wesley College.
“Home games are so much better than away games. There’s nothing like coming out of the tunnel and seeing a sea of Cru purple and yellow,” said sophomore management major, Haston Adams. “Cru-Nation is definitely deep and they are always live. The team plays more relaxed and it seems like we are sharper when we play in Crusader Stadium.”
The Cru are currently 14-2 since playing their home games in Crusader Stadium. This season will mark the third year the Cru will play truly at home.
This season, the UMHB football program’s motto is “Earn It.”
“After an upset last season, our coaches decided to rebuild the team from the ground up and if you wanted a spot on the team you had to ‘earn it,’ McVey said. “Everyone started from the bottom and had to work their way back to the top during a competitive offseason.”
The team’s quarterback, senior marketing major Zach Anderson, trusts his teammates and believes everyone is committed.
“Overall I feel that we have an extremely talented team this year that is very dedicated to getting better each and every day. I believe that this will be our best season in the time that I have been at UMHB, and I plan to do everything that I can to make sure it happens.”
The Crusaders will begin their season on the road by traveling to Delaware, Ohio where they will take on the Battling Bishops of Ohio Wesleyan University at 6 p.m. on Sept. 5. Following, the Cru will have a five-game home stand, starting with the Majors of Millsaps College at 6 p.m. on Sept. 12.