By Joshua Parrott, Sports Writer
Eben Nelson is the “man.”
If you happen to walk by him, be sure to exchange a high-five or two. A handshake would be appropriate as well.
But be careful: He might accidentally call you sir.
Nelson is the football team’s placekicker from Stephenville and this week’s Lone Star Conference South Division Special Teams Play-er-of-the-Week. The sophomore is a huge reason why ACU is heading into this weekend’s Homecoming game against Angelo State with a chance to win a third straight game, a feat the Wildcats haven’t done since many ACU upperclassmen were in high school.
Don’t think Nelson is going to get a big head about it, though. Nelson has a less imposing ego than the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Nelson kicked the game-winning field goal against Central Oklahoma last weekend and kicked a career-long 49-yard field goal two weeks ago to beat Eastern New Mexico, 20-19.
Nelson does seems to be the answer to the prayers of Wildcat faithful two seasons ago, as ACU lost six games by a total of eight points, including four one-point losses. The following season, Nelson came in and converted seven of eight field goals and missed only one of 29 extra-point attempts as a freshman.
The rest is history.
Nelson hasn’t been alone in his efforts to salvage a winning season for head coach Gary Gaines, who has a 6-20 record over his three years at the helm.
Colby Freeman, a junior quarterback from Brown-wood, has come on of late, racking up more than 550 yards of total offense in the last two games and being named the LSC South Offensive Player-of-the-Week two weeks ago.
Freeman, who was injured in the fifth game of last season, seems healthy enough to lead the Wildcat offense, which was wavering until the Central Oklahoma game, in which ACU gained more than 400 yards of total offense.
Senior running back Eric Polk also put together his first 100 yards game since Sept. 7, racking up 111 yards on 28 carries. Polk now has 403 yards on 102 carries on the season for an average of 3.95 yards per carry, down from last season’s 4.7 yard per carry average of a year ago.
The emergence of junior wide receiver Don Hooks has been a pleasant surprise as well.
Hooks had been struggling with injuries throughout the season, but had three catches for 98 yards against Central Oklahoma, including a 37-yard touchdown pass from Freeman.
ACU hasn’t won a Home-coming game since 1997, when the Wildcats upended Tarleton State, 23-17. This year the streak could end, as Angelo State enters the game with a losing record, while the Wildcats enter with plenty of momentum.
And one heck of a kicker.