The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football team will kick off the 2016 season at home this Saturday as the Cru opens the season in the state of Texas for the first time since the 2012 season opener. UMHB will host Ohio Wesleyan University for a 6:00 PM start at Crusader Stadium in the opener for both teams. The game will also mark the first time the Cru has opened the season in Crusader Stadium since the facility opened in 2013.
The Cru comes into the game ranked as high as #4 in the nation in Preseason Polls and UMHB was ranked #5 in the country by D3football.com. The Cru is coming off an 11-2 season that ended with a 38-35 loss at Linfield College in the NCAA Division III National Quarterfinals. The team returns 50 lettermen, seven offensive starters and seven defensive starters this season and is looking for a fast start to the season to help erase the bitter taste left by last year’s season-ending defeat.
“Some parts of our team are much farther along than they were at this point last year, especially with our quarterbacks and receivers,” Cru Head Coach Pete Fredenburg said. “But we have to block better and our defensive ends are banged up, so we will need to get better there before Saturday.”
UMHB will be facing Ohio Wesleyan to open the season for the second straight year. The Cru won last year’s meeting 42-3, but it was 20-3 entering the fourth quarter before UMHB forced three Battling Bishops turnovers and turned them into 22 fourth-quarter points to put the game away. Those early game struggles also have Fredenburg’s attention.
“Last year we came out and looked like we were playing with little or no confidence,” Fredenburg said. “We have to look at that as we game plan and devise some things that will let us come out and play fast and build some confidence earlier in the ball game.”
Ohio Wesleyan finished 5-5 overall and went 5-4 in the North Coast Athletic Conference last season. The Battling Bishops return 42 letter winners, 10 offensive starters and seven defensive starters from that team this year.