The Paw Print
The Adams State Grizzlies football team kicks off their 2014 campaign tonight at 7 p.m. here at Rex Stadium. The game will be a “Green Out” against Oklahoma Panhandle State University.
The Grizzlies look to improve upon the 7-4 overall mark they set last fall. ASU has several of their key players returning this season, including 16 seniors. The team also brought in several players in the offseason to fill the gaps.
Quarterback Auston Hillman will return for his sophomore campaign with the Grizzlies, after starting in a majority of last season’s games. Hillman led the team with 1,469 passing yards and 439 yards rushing.
Hillman will also have several of his receivers back to choose from. Senior Denzel McCullum racked up 500 receiving yards in 2013 while junior Taylor Schmidt brought in 381 yards. Sophomore Phil Romero will also return as a viable option for the Grizzlies. Last season he totaled 246 yards.
On the ground, the Grizzlies will look to red-shirt freshman Cameron DeChesaro and junior Nick Diercks.
Defensively, the Grizzlies are led by senior cornerback Cariel Brooks. Last season Brooks registered three interceptions for the Grizzlies, a team high. Connor Stevens will also return to the team after missing much of last season due to injury. He will help the Grizzlies out at the linebacker position.
The Grizzlies are set to open against the Aggies of Oklahoma Panhandle State University. When the teams met in week two of last season, ASU edged past the Aggies 26-10. Last season, OPSU finished 4-7 overall.
Adams State was picked to finish fourth in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) coaches poll at media day in August. Reigning champion Colorado State University-Pueblo received nine first place votes in the poll, making them the clear front-runner to win the conference this season.
At media day, ASU head football coach Marty Heaton recognized that there are many good football players and coaches at the Division II level. However, he said he feels confident about the players the team has brought in and the work they’ve done in the offseason. A lot of their focus was placed on character development because “those are the things that are going to win you ball games,” Heaton said.
“We need to make that next step to be up there and compete for the league” Stevens said. He was among several players that made the trip to media day in Colorado Springs. Stevens said a goal for the team this year was to show they could compete with the top teams of the conference. Many of the players stressed hard work, leadership, and discipline as a key factor to victory.
Come out to support the Grizzlies in action tonight at 7 p.m. or tune in on KSPK radio.