Sports

Pack football ready for home opener

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Photo courtesy of gothunderwolves.com.
C.J. Roberts on defense vs. Angelo State at Cowboys Stadium. Photo courtesy of gothunderwolves.com.

The Neta & Eddie DeRose Thunderbowl will become a sea of red on Saturday when the No. 5 ranked ThunderWolves take on the Western New Mexico Mustangs. 

Saturday will mark the home opener for the 2-0 ThunderWolves as they begin Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play. The Pack will be donning their red jerseys, and fans are all encouraged to wear red as part of a “Red Out” at the Thunderbowl.

“The home opener is always exciting,” head coach John Wristen said, “You have your fans here and the atmosphere is exciting. Everyone is always excited to see the Pack Walk.”

Fresh off a 45-24 rout of Angelo State, the ThunderWolves are off to their fourth consecutive 2-0 start, and fifth such start in the last six years. Since the program was resurrected, the team is 10-1 in non-conference play under Wristen.

Now the focus for the ThunderWolves becomes opponents in the RMAC, as they prepare to play their remaining regular season schedule against conference foes, beginning with Western New Mexico.

Though New Mexico has an 0-1 record on the season, they boast a heavy and efficient passing attack led by Mich Glasmann, who threw for 351 yards and four touchdowns in their 38-35 loss to the University of San Diego.

“Western New Mexico is a good, well-coached team,” Wristen said, “It’s going to be a good test for us and a good way to measure ourselves against the RMAC.”

The ThunderWolves are riding several streaks heading into this weekend’s showdown with the Mustangs, including a 28-game regular season winning streak and a 22-game winning streak against RMAC opponents.

Under coach Wristen, the ThunderWolves have seen a lot of success both at home and in the month of September. The ThunderWolves boast a 22-8 record at home since 2008, while also posting a 17-4 record in September during that time.

Those trends should continue if the ThunderWolves continue their recent play to open the season, as they have put up more than 40 points in the first two games. Should they score that many points again Saturday, it will set a school record for consecutive games with 40 or more points scored.

One of the many reasons the ThunderWolves have been able to score so many points early on has been the play of their defense. Linebacker Ben Estica is leading the way with 13.5 tackles per game, while the rest of the defense has contributed six takeaways.

C.J. Roberts has one of those takeaways, literally grabbing the ball out of an Angelo State receiver’s hands and taking it back for a 40-yard touchdown in last week’s contest.

“I’m not going to say I saw that play actually happening,” Roberts said, “But before the game I dreamt of having a big play like that. It just so happened the ball came my way and I took advantage of the opportunity.”

As for the transition from an NFL stadium to the ThunderBowl, Roberts and his teammates don’t feel like there’s any difference.

“We are all one big family,” Roberts said, “The fans travel well, and I love our fans; they’re passionate about what we do, and we’re passionate about what they do.”

Saturday’s game is slated for a 2 p.m. kickoff time.