BELTON — The battle for Mary Hardin-Baylor’s quarterback job never got to materialize, and the decision process for naming a starter lacked any hand-wringing.
Inexperienced senior Brian Gallagher is injured. Inexperienced senior Jake Sims will start Saturday’s season opener at Redlands (Calif.).
It’s as simple as that.
“Jake won the job because Brian isn’t practicing,” Crusaders coach Pete Fredenburg said Monday. “Without Brian as an option, the decision was easy on us.”
Gallagher, whom Fredenburg deemed as the front-runner for the starting job, has a high ankle sprain and hasn’t practiced in more than a week. As such, it will be Sims leading the offense when the third-ranked Crusaders face the 23rd-ranked Bulldogs, at least for now.
“The biggest thing we have to do obviously is develop a quarterback who can take us where we want to go, and I think it’s a work in progress,” Fredenburg said. “When it’s all said and done, hopefully we’ll be fine.”
UMHB’s two-deep chart lists six sophomores and a freshman as projected starters for the opener.
Baylor Mullins, a freshman from Merkel, will start at strong-side linebacker — a position more akin to a safety in the Crusaders’ scheme.
Five of the six starting sophomores are on offense, including two along the line and Michael Carpenter at running back.
“Baylor Mullins is really going to be an outstanding player,” Fredenburg said. “There are some others, too, who are falling in step with him and they’re really going to help us this year.”
Carpenter will be backed up by junior Caleb Moore, who returns to running back after spending last season as a receiver — a spot where the Crusaders believe they have an abundance of talent.
“I thought (Moore) was an OK receiver,” Fredenburg said. “But he has a chance to be a real dynamic running back.
“And we have what I think is the best group of receivers that we’ve ever had. Now there’s some concern because we’re unproven there. But when you have guys who can run like they can, you want to get them on the field.”
After road games at Redlands and Kean (N.J.), UMHB returns home to face No. 5 Wesley (Del.) in the inaugural game at Crusader Stadium, which the players got a sneak peak of a couple of weeks ago.
“The dressing room is well enough along that they could get a pretty good picture of what it’s going to look like, and they started dancing and chanting and singing songs,” Fredenburg said. “I didn’t think I was ever going to get them out of there. It was truly amazing.”
The Crusaders’ choices for team captains this season were senior running back Elijah Hudson, the team’s top returning rusher; senior defensive tackle Silvio Diaz, the American Southwest Conference Preseason Defensive Player of the Year; and senior cornerback Brodrick Crain of Belton.