By Thomas Thortvedt
The Colorado State University Pueblo’s football team gears up for its season opener and will host No. 16 Colorado School of Mines Thursday, Aug. 31, at 6 p.m. at the Neta & Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl.
The Pack comes into the 2017 campaign ranked No.12 in the American Football Coaches Association Preseason Poll. The team looks to bounce back strong against the Orediggers after last year’s 51-21 defeat.
Junior outside linebacker Noor Shongolo said the team is anxious to get back on the field and rewrite what happened last year against the Orediggers. “We can’t wait honestly,” Shongolo said. “We have just been eager to step on that field, there’s been nothing else on our mind but this game since the spring,” he said.
Shongolo said the coaches have been preparing the team mentally and physically to get ready for a rigorous season. “The coaches have done a great job of emphasizing what it means to be part of this program and to put the uniform on,” Shongolo said.
The Thunderwolves come into the 2017 campaign named the favorite for the 2017 season in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
Four CSU-Pueblo student-athletes gathered Preseason All-RMAC Offense honors, while three were named Preseason Defense.
Seniors Zach Boyd (TE, Fort Lupton, Colo.), Corbin Feenstra (OL, Superior, Colo.), Ty McCulley (OL, Pueblo, Colo.) and Bernard Mcdondle (RB, Littleton, Colo.) were recognized. Senior Josh Croy (DL, Littleton, Colo.), junior Brandon Payer (LB, Pine, Colo.) and junior Darius Williams (CB, Gilbert, Ariz.) were honored on the defensive side of the ball.
Sophomore defensive back Emory Taylor said this season isn’t about winning the RMAC or the Division II National Championship, it’s about winning one game at a time.
“Our expectations are to go 1-0 every week,” Taylor said. “To do that we have to focus on the little details and eliminate mental errors.”
Taylor said the coaches preach to the team about not taking any steps backwards. “One thing they harp on is that iron sharpens iron and man sharpens man,” Taylor said. “That means we all need to hold each other accountable to get better every day.”
The Thunderwolves also have key games on their schedule and one will be featured on ESPN3 and the ESPN app Sept. 30 when they host fellow 2016 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Champions, Colorado Mesa University.
The contest will mark the fourth time that the Pack will be featured on an ESPN network and fifth nationally produced game in the last four years. CSU-Pueblo is 2-1 in games aired on ESPN.