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Devon Garrison, sophomore tight end, rushes for the first down after the catch against Emporia on Sept. 25. Devon caught two passes and accumulated twenty yards for his first time on the field this season. Daniel Tustin

Gorilla Football looks forward to upcoming season

Devon Garrison, sophomore tight end, rushes for the first down after the catch against Emporia on Sept. 25. Devon caught two passes and accumulated twenty yards for his first time on the field this season. Daniel Tustin

Curtis Meyer sports reporter

The 2022 season promises to be an exciting one for Gorilla football fans. With many returning seniors, Defensive Coach Tom Anthony used the word “hungry” when describing the attitude of his players.

The Gorillas will have a couple options for quarterback this year, most likely between sophomores Chad Dodson and Darius Bowers. Dodson, a returning player, played in five games last season, throwing for 599 yards with 7 touchdowns and two interceptions. 3 of those games came in the 34-24 win over Fort Hays, which capped off last season. 

Bowers, a transfer student from the University of Central Arkansas, played three games last year, completing 10 of 20 passes for 133 yards and a single touchdown and single interception. Bowers was a two-time first-team Arkansas Class 7A All-State performer while at Fayetteville High School. 

 Complementing the quarterbacks are the wide receivers sophomore Christian Carter, graduate student Elijah Harris, and senior Bryce Murphy. Murphy, also a team captain, said he felt that the team was “a couple steps ahead in our brotherhood,” and that this is going to be “a very special season.” He looks to improve after suffering from injuries last year. 

 Despite only appearing in five games last year, Murphy caught 14 passes for 270 yards and two touchdowns. Murphy played in four games and caught 14 passes for 192 yards and a lone touchdown in 2020. Hopefully Murphy will be able to keep healthy and stack on more success. 

On the defensive side of the ball the Gorillas are also stacked. Whether one is looking at the defensive line, linebackers, or the cornerbacks, there is talent and skill to see, especially with players like Luke Jennings, sophomore linebacker, Brandon Mlekus, a grad student safety, Morgan Selemaea, senior linebacker, or Zeke Wall, grad student defensive lineman.

“We just wanna’ win,” Mlekus said. The defensive captain said he had a good season last year, but he still looks to improve. “I want to be better at tracking the ball and tackling.” 

Defense was dominant last year, and the Gorillas look to continue that momentum into this year. Pitt state had 42 touchdowns last season, while the defense only allowed 29 touchdowns for the opponents. The Gorillas had 244 first downs last year, and the defense only allowed opponents 197.

Anthony said he wants his unit to improve the run and red zone defense. 

“We just want to do everything we can as a team to achieve those goals on defense.” Anthony said. Head coach Brian Wright, who will be leading his second full season at Pittsburg State, said the biggest difference this year is the team’s mindset. 

“Getting into year three, everybody in the program has a clear idea of what the goals are,” Wright said. 

Wright also said a “Championship mindset, the four champion traits, trust, effort, accountability, and mindset,” would help achieve his goal of going 1-0 every week. Wide Receiver Coach Jerry Diminno said coaches aren’t over complicating, “Keeping it as simple as possible, just working on fundamentals.”  

All this leads into the first game. The Gorilla’s home opener will be Thursday, September 1, at 7 p.m. against The Mules of Central Missouri. Hopefully the team will take some of these lessons to heart and use them to go 1 and 0. 

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