BELTON, Texas- As the UMHB football team narrowly defeated ETBU 30-28 on Saturday, head coach Pete Fredenburg was busy taking mental notes.
With a bye week upcoming before the regular season finale against Louisiana College on March 20, Fredenburg understands that this is a young team. But he also sees that this is a squad with plenty of room to grow before the Cru takes the field in 12 days.
“We’re playing plenty of young players and obviously our team is young,” said Fredenburg on Monday. “I think that the reaction that we got was the leadership of our team really starting to emerge and pulling the younger guys, guys that haven’t committed themselves to this program. I really believe that [this near loss] is going to be a wake-up call and very beneficial for us.”
One of the areas that Fredenburg noted needs improvement is at quarterback, where sophomore Tommy Bowden and junior Kyle King are competing for the starting job. Bowden started Saturday’s game, throwing the Cru’s only touchdown pass of the contest, though King also earned a share of the snaps and led UMHB’s offense for the entire fourth quarter.
Statistically, neither stood out when it came to throwing the ball, as Bowden was just seven-of-19 passing and King was five-of-13.
Though Fredenburg did not divulge any information as to who will start against Louisiana College, he did note that he felt King “performed a little better” than Bowden in Saturday’s win.
“I think Kyle actually performed a little better than Tommy did,” said Fredenburg. “Again it is a concern to me because I think Tommy is going to be an outstanding contributor to our football team and our program at quarterback. I think we’ve just got to develop some consistency and confidence in his throwing. However, I do believe that Kyle probably performed a little better and just sees the field a little better. We will work both of them and see what happens this week.”
He mentioned the fact that “both quarterbacks are still developing” and that each brings something to the offense that will play a role in the Cru’s success.
“Both of those quarterbacks are new and they’re developing,” said Fredenburg. “I think it is important to realize that each has his own little positive things that he can contribute to the team. We’ve got to get into the position where we can utilize that.
“Kyle is different from Tommy, so we’ve got to make sure that whoever is the quarterback is running the things that he can be successful with.”
King led UMHB’s final drive, as the Cru, trailing 28-27, marched 42 yards on 13 plays, reaching the ETBU 20 yard-line before kicker Anthony Avila was summoned from the sideline. Avila, who had missed four straight field goals in the contest, rose to the occasion, knocking a 30-yarder through the uprights to give UMHB the win.
“There couldn’t have been any more pressure put on him than having to kick the ball to win the football game and he knew full well that one reason we were in the situation we were in was because of his inadequacies,” said Fredenburg. “The thing that I will say that was really special was that he felt confident that the players supported him and knew that he could get the job done. Ultimately, that is what he did.”
Fredenburg was asked if, considering Avila’s misses up to that point, the thought of going for it on that fourth and five ever crossed his mind.
“No I wasn’t considering going for it,” responded the head coach. “I wanted him to kick it. I had confidence that he would. He has a kicking net on the side and obviously Randy Smith, who works with him, does a great job with him. He settled down and ended up performing when we needed him to.”
It seems that the bye week could not have come at a better time for the Cru, as UMHB prepares to take on a “very talented” Louisiana College team in the regular season finale. The Crusaders, with a 3-0 record, have already clinched a share of the East Division title, and a win over the Wildcats would propel them into the ASC championship game on March 27.
“We spent a week in preparation to play them, but it was cut short [due to the winter storm],” said Fredenburg of preparing for Louisiana College. “We didn’t get a detailed game plan put together, but we noticed that they are very talented.
“This is going to be a big ballgame because their backs are against the wall. Again, it goes back to the quality of effort that [we face], and that will certainly be the case against Louisiana College. I think it is really critical during this open date, to [address] some fundamental issues and come out of this with a positive framework and positive mindset.
“As you get into the growth and development of our football team, there’s an awful lot of young players that have to sustain the intensity week in and week out. What our guys are finally realizing is that every time we play, we get our opponent’s best shot. If you’re going to be a part of this program, you have to realize that you’re going to have to prepare that way because of the success this program has had. The guys have to understand that every team we play is going to be after us and play us extremely hard.”