Two of the biggest rivals in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference will meet Saturday when the Colorado State University-Pueblo ThunderWolves take on the Adams State University Grizzlies at Rex Stadium in Alamosa, Colo.
The meeting will mark the 30th time that the teams, separated by just over 100 miles, will clash, with CSU-Pueblo holding a 17-10-2 advantage all-time.
The ThunderWolves are riding a series of streaks heading into the game, including an RMAC record 29 consecutive regular season victories, and 25 straight wins against RMAC opponents. Specifically against conference foe Adams State, the ThunderWolves have won four consecutive matchups dating to 2009, and haven’t lost in Alamosa since 1976.
“It’s a backyard brawl,” head coach John Wristen said of the rivalry. “It’s 119 miles from their stadium to our stadium, and we’re really excited to go out there and play on Saturday night.”
Wristen and the Pack know that this year’s game won’t be handed to them, as Adams State is off to an equal 3-0 start to the season.
“We realize that for this program to go where it wants to go, these games are so important; these games are like playoff games,” Wristen said. “[Adams State] has a good program, and coach [Marty] Heaton does a good job of coaching their guys.”
The ThunderWolves are off to a 3-0 start for the fourth consecutive season, largely in part to the dynamic play of their offense, which is averaging 43.3 points per game, setting a new school record for consecutive 40-plus point outings.
The 43.3 points per game is No. 12 in the country, and trails only Colorado School of Mines for the highest scoring average in the RMAC.
“All I want to do is win by one point,” Wristen said. “If that means we have to score 50 and they score 49, then I’m happy.”
The ThunderWolves’ defense is off to a great start as well, forcing nine three-and-out drives, and 13 total punts last week against Western New Mexico.
“Our defense has done an outstanding job,” Wristen said. “But my expectation is just for us to have fun, play hard and enjoy this together; if that happens, then we’ve done our job.”
Defensively, linebacker Ben Estica is leading the way with 32 total tackles, an average of just over 10 per game. Estica also has an interception, forced fumble and four tackles for loss on his already stellar sophomore campaign.
Meanwhile, wide receiver Paul Browning is continuing his outstanding season catching passes from junior quarterback Chris Bonner, accumulating more than 100 receiving yards in each of his first three games and averaging a Division II best 31.8 yards per reception.
The ThunderWolves and Grizzlies are scheduled to kickoff at 6 p.m. on Saturday.