By Jared Fields, Sports Editor
The Wildcats look to get back on track Saturday as they play Southeastern Oklahoma State in their final Lone Star Conference crossover game of the year.
The Savages go into Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. match up with a 2-2 record, and are they are 1-2 in conference play.
Despite the Savages’ mediocre record, head coach Chris Thomsen said it will not be an average team.
“They’re as tough or tougher than anyone we’ve played,” Thomsen said. “I think all their personnel’s really good.”
In last week’s 35-3 win against Panhandle State, Savages linebacker Chris Hendricks recorded 18 total tackles, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and two sacks to earn Defensive Player of the Week honors from d2football.com.
The Savages’ defense is strong all around, Thomsen said. After four games, the defense is third in the LSC in scoring defense, allowing just 16.5 points a game.
“They play really hard,” Thomsen said. “They’re going to force you to be balanced, throw the ball some, and they’re good at what they do.”
Southeastern’s offense is also balanced, although the Savages will throw the ball more than run. Last week for the Savages, wide receiver Derek Hixon caught seven passes for 108 yards and one touchdown. Quarterback Justin Pitrucha completed 19 of 33 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns.
“We’ll try to get them in third and long and blitz them,” Thomsen said about going against the Savages’ offense.
Senior defensive end Mark Malunowe said the Wildcats will have four defensive linemen for this game to try to get some pressure on the Savages’ offense.
“We’ll run some four man front,” Thomsen said. We’ve got some more D-linemen back; it’s more of our personnel than anything.”
Malunowe has been battling a shoulder injury this year and has been playing a limited amount, but is expecting a more active role this week.
Junior offensive lineman Devorias Jackson is listed as being day-to-day after suffering a neck strain and being carted off the field during Saturday’s game against Eastern New Mexico.
In practice this week, Thomsen said the team has been going against each other more and working on tempo to raise confidence. After a game where missed opportunities led to missed points, the Wildcats’ game in Durant will be an important test of character early in the season.
A loss puts the Wildcats at 2-2 in conference play with the beef of the schedule remaining. However, a win will move the team to 3-1 in the conference.
The Wildcats next home game is Homecoming, which is at 2 p.m. Oct. 15 against West Texas A&M.