BELTON, Texas- The 2021 UMHB football season is just one day away, as the top-ranked Crusaders host Simpson College on Saturday.
The contest has great importance for UMHB, as the Cru gets an opportunity to fine-tune its offense and defense before facing East Texas Baptist in the conference opener on Sept. 11.
And, perhaps most importantly, football will be back at Crusader Stadium in the month of September, the Stagg Bowl far off on the horizon, but the end goal for UMHB.
We cover the matchup information, UMHB’s two-deep depth charts, storylines to watch and more in this week’s “Coach’s Clipboard”.
The Matchup: No. 1 UMHB vs. Simpson College
Date: September 4
Location: Crusader Stadium, Belton, Texas
Time: 6:00 p.m.
About the opponent: Simpson College
Head Coach: Matt Jeter (5th season)
Conference: American Rivers Conference
Season Record (overall/conf): 0-0, 0-0
2020-21 Record: 0-1
Names to know: Sr. OL Mason Spree (2019 First-Team All-Conference), Sr. DL Jack Bootsmiller (16 tackles, 4 sacks in 2019), Sr. QB Seth Howard (19-36 passing, 214 yds, 2 TD, 3 INT in Simpson’s one game of 2020-21), Jr. WR Reed Worth (26 rec., 320 yds, 1 TD in 2019)
Preseason Rankings: Picked to finish fifth in the ARC in the conference’s Preseason Poll.
Three storylines to watch
Limited game prep for the Cru– Simpson College played in just one game, a 49-14 loss to North Central (Iowa), which means UMHB had limited film as the coaching staff prepared for the contest. Crusaders head coach Pete Fredenburg noted on Monday that it was “very difficult” to create a game plan and senior safety Jefferson Fritz told the media that the Cru’s plan is to go out there and “do what we do”, noting, “I think it’ll all work out for us.”
High-scoring start– In each of the Cru’s last three season openers, UMHB has scored more than 40 points, shutting out Belhaven 41-0 during the 2020-21 season. Also notable is the fact that the Cru has won its season opener in every season since 2007, when they beat Christopher Newport 51-19.
Powerful running unit– The Crusaders enter the contest with three talented running backs in Aphonso Thomas, Montana Miller and Kenneth Cormier. Fredenburg tabbed Thomas, a former SMU back, as the starter, though Miller and Cormier should each see action as well after a successful spring. Miller had 209 rushing yards in the spring and Cormier tallied 143 yards in the ASC Championship game. Also, starting quarterback Kyle King flashed signs of a great runner last season, with 181 yards and six touchdowns.
Two-Deep Depth Chart
*-Team Captain L-Varsity Letters
Quarterback: *Kyle King (Sr.-1L), Tommy Bowden (Jr.-2L)
Running Back: Aphonso Thomas (Jr.-1L), Kenneth Cormier Jr. (So.-1L)
Wide Receiver: Brandon Jordan (Sr.-1L), Jerry Day (Fr.-TR)
Wide Receiver: Aaron Sims (Sr.-1L), DJ Weaver (Sr-2L)
Wide Receiver: Jamaal Hamilton (Jr.-TR), Romello Cook (Sr.-1L)
Tiger End: *Gary Ruckman (Sr.-2L), Connor Mullins (So.-1L)
Left Tackle: Jesse Hoke (So.-1L), Hayes Chizer (So.-SQ)
Left Guard: Reuel Tandoh (So.-1L), John Kazmierski (Sr.-2L)
Center: Jeffrey Sims Jr. (Sr.-3L), Jacob Daily (So.-1L)
Right Guard: Matt Sanders (Jr.-2L), Cam Williams (Sr.-3L)
Right Tackle: Ethan Ruckman (So.-1L), Wyatt Crawford (So.-1L)
Defensive End: Caleb Johnson (Sr.-3L), Trey Witcher (Fr.-TR)
Defensive Tackle: Pete Smith (Sr.-3L), Tristan Green (So.-1L)
Defensive Tackle: Josh Patteson (So.-1L), Kobe Giles (So.-1L)
Defensive End: Khevon Shepard (Sr.-4L), E’Monte Smith (Sr.-4L)
Weakside Linebacker: *Mikkah Hackett (Sr.-4L), Charles Minniweather (Fr.-HS)
Middle Linebacker: Akeem Jackson (Sr.-4L), Mason Young (Fr.-HS)
Strongside Linebacker: Jacob Mueller (Sr.-3L), Jackson Sennie (So.-1L)
Cru (Flex Safety): Jayden Smith (Sr.-3L), Logan Arnold (Fr.-HS)
Free Safety: *Jefferson Fritz (Sr.-4L), Omari Frazier (So.-1L)
Cornerback: Titus Dunk (Jr.-2L), Tavion Page (Jr.-2L)
Cornerback: Keith Gipson (Sr.-3L), Jordan See (So.-1L)
Kicker: Anthony Avila (Sr.-3L), Brandon Cunningham (Jr.-2L)
Punter: *Jefferson Fritz (Sr.-4L), Brandon Cunningham (Jr.-2L)
Punt Returner: Jefferson Fritz (Sr.-4L), Aaron Sims (Sr.-1L)
Kick Returner: Aaron Sims (Sr.-1L), Tommy Bowden (Jr.-2L)
Long Snapper: Jacob Mueller (Sr.-3L), Ethan Ruckman (So.-1L)
Holder: Tommy Bowden (Jr.-2L), Ryan Redding (Sr.-3L)