By Dave Wagner
Not only are the Eastern New Mexico University and Adams State College football teams facing the unknowns of a new season when they clash in a 1 p.m. kickoff on Saturday at Alamosa, Colo., they’re also looking at relatively unfamiliar opponents.
Coaches Bud Elliott of ENMU and Wayne McGinn of Adams State both said they’re not sure what to expect from the other team.
“We’ve heard they’re an option team,” said McGinn, who has compiled a 10-22 record in his three seasons with the Grizzlies. “It’s always tough in an opening game anyway, but it’s tougher when you have an unfamiliar opponent.”
Elliott said Adams State’s coaches worked with the Division I Air Force Academy coaching staff during the spring, and he expects the Grizzlies to run a lot of the same things as the Falcons.
“Offensively, we think they’re going to run a lot of option,” Elliott said. “We don’t know for sure what they’re going to do, but we’re pretty well prepared for whatever.”
The Greyhounds, who went 8-3 in 2002, expect to be a deep team at most positions, particularly on defense. Meantime, McGinn is trying to build a program that has struggled in recent years.
“I think he’s beginning to make progress,” Elliott said. “They’ve got some players that look pretty good on paper.”
McGinn said the Grizzlies are getting to the point where they don’t have to replace most of a team every season. The Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference squad posted a 5-6 mark a year ago.
“It’s our fourth year but really it’s only our third recruiting class because we got here so late the first year,” he said. “We’ve got quite a few people back. We made a lot of strides (in 2002), but we’re looking at improvement from last year.”
The Hounds should go into the game at full strength, Elliott said, except for senior wide receiver-kick returner Cale Sanders, who is coming back after missing the 2002 season with a torn pectoral muscle and has been slowed by a groin injury in preseason.
Elliott, who says Sanders has drawn interest from NFL scouts for his speed and pass-catching ability, is hoping the Roswell Goddard product will be available for the Hounds’ Sept. 13 home opener against New Mexico Highlands.
Elliott believes his team is ready to get the season under way.
“We need to go in and take care of business,” he said of Saturday’s contest. “If we do that, I think we’ll be all right.”