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Matt Maggee, senior safety, lines up on defense during the practice. PSU finished the 2017 season with an 8-4 record with six straight wins to end the year.

Thursday night lights

As the new school year begins, so too does a new football season. The Gorillas are back in gear and ready to start the season next Thursday against University of Central Oklahoma (UCO). 

“It feels really good to be starting the season,” said offensive coordinator Dave Wiemers. “I like the work ethic of the group; we come every day ready to work. We look like we’re trying to get ourselves in position to play well. We still have a week left to go and we’ve got a lot to accomplish, but it’s a good group. Got some real talent. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do against another team.” 

As the team comes down to the wire for the start of the season, they are prepared and anxious to play.  

“The kids are excited,” said defensive coordinator Nate Dreiling. “Just over a week right now until we start, so we’re just fine-tuning some things and getting ready to play.” 

As far as the team goes, the offensive side will bring some strong talent back to the field. 

“We’ve got John Roderique, a three year starter at quarterback.” Wiemers said. “When you have a senior in any sport who works that hard, he’s going to be hard to replace next year. But he’s going to be really valuable to us this year and lead us at quarterback. For receivers we’ve got Brenner Clemons and Lorenzo West—guys who have been proven in our league. I’m also a big fan of our offensive line and our tight end group of guys—Ryan Dodd and Andy Otting and Cole Baughman—they’re all guys that are going to do a good job up front. Got some good players. Looking forward to getting on the field together and seeing what it looks like.” 

On the defensive side, Dreiling is in his second year with the team and is looking forward to seeing what his returners will bringback to the table. 

“We’ve got a lot of returning starters on defense,” Dreiling said. “So as long as those guys play well and we’ve got some successful guys who can step in for them, we’re going to be in good shape. We’ve got a lot of veteran players on defense, so hopefully the growing pains are all out from last season. When you have a lot of return experience I think games early on are a lot easier. They slow down things for players as opposed to first time under the lights and being shell-shocked a little bit. Hopefully we’ll be able to grasp on to that better and we’ll get a better record from the start.” 

The Gorillas are anxious for the first game Thursday, following last year’s record. Last season the Gorillas brought home a tight victory over UCO 31-28. Coaches and players are looking forward to seeing who will win out this year. 

“I think UCO is gonna bring a really good team in here,” Wiemers said. “We’re similar in a lot of ways; talentwise, in terms of our schemes, and the way we go about things, we are two similar units. Going to come down to who plays best that night, who plays the cleanest, whoever plays like it’s not their first game will be the winner. We can’t play sloppy. Just have to play better than them on that night.” 

Overall, the team is energized for another season of Pitt State football and hopes the community and students are just as enthusiastic. 

“I hope our students and fans here in Pittsburg come support us,” Wiemers said. “We know they will and that makes us really excited. We think we got a group here that will make them come out to see us. The Gorilla fans always show out, but this year we’re really going to make it worth their while. It will be fun to come to Carnie Smith and check it out.” 

 

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