BELTON — For what could very well be the most highly anticipated date in the program’s history, Mary Hardin-Baylor will have a young, first-time starter at the game’s most visible position.
Sophomore Zach Anderson will start at quarterback Saturday evening, when the fourth-ranked Crusaders host fifth-ranked Wesley (Del.) in the inaugural game at Crusader Stadium.
UMHB coach Pete Fredenburg isn’t worried, though.
“Zach is so laid-back it’s sickening,” Fredenburg said Monday. “He’s really laid-back.”
Anderson earned the starting job after turning in an eye-opening performance off the bench in last week’s 34-7 win at Kean (N.J.). He was 12-of-14 passing for 161 yards and three touchdowns during a little more than two quarters in relief of senior Jake Sims, who was 4-of-9 for 34 yards and an interception while leading the offense to only three points in the first 25 minutes.
“You have to look at what Zach did in the second half,” Fredenburg said. “He managed the team, moved us down the field and put some points on the board. You have to give him a shot.”
Anderson — a 6-2, 185-pound product of Odem — was the junior varsity quarterback a year ago. Come 6 p.m. Saturday, he’ll be charged with keeping the Crusaders (2-0) moving consistently against the Wolverines (2-0) in front of the largest home crowd ever for a UMHB game.
“What was disappointing in the first half (against Kean) was the execution of our offense. We broke down at times,” Fredenburg said. “We might not run a lot (of things) this week, but we’re going to really execute what we run.”
No more yellow dogs
For the first 15 years of the school’s football program, UMHB players would dress for home games at the field house on campus then ride Belton ISD school buses to Belton High School’s stadium.
The days of riding buses to home games are long gone now that the Crusaders have an on-campus stadium.
“Our focus has been to make a home game a home game,” Fredenburg said. “Everything will be at the stadium, and the players will just report to the stadium on Fridays and Saturdays.”
To limit the shock factor his players might experience in their sparkling, state-of-the-art home, Fredenburg will hold two practices this week in the new stadium.
“We’re going to practice Thursday under the lights and practice there again Friday,” he said. “That’s what we’re going to do for all home games. I don’t want our guys to be in awe when they get there for the game.”
UMHB struggled in all parts of the kicking game against Kean. Marcus Wimby fumbled a punt return, Chad Peavy had one punt blocked and averaged only 29 yards on his other three, Drew Owen missed a 35-yard field goal, and the Crusaders gave up a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
“Instead of being a strong point, our special teams is a weak point. And we pride ourselves in the amount of work we put in with our special teams,” Fredenburg said. “We have to get better there. We’re still developing all of that.”
Around the ASC
UMHB, Louisiana College (2-0) and East Texas Baptist (1-0) are the ASC’s only undefeated teams.
The only teams in the league without a win are Sul Ross State, Mississippi College and Hardin-Simmons, which was beaten 71-21 by No. 3 Linfield (Ore.) last week.