Reggie Wilson, whose hometown is Houston, understandably has more on his mind right now than the Cru's opener.
By Brian Lester
Reggie Wilson is gearing up for his senior season at Mary Hardin-Baylor, but his mind is also on his hometown of Houston.
Football is small in comparison to the tragedies of real life. It’s only a game. Win or lose, you go home at the end of the day and get ready for the next challenge.
Challenges in life are different. Some have lost their homes because of the flooding caused from the more than 50 inches of rain that pounded Houston during Hurricane Harvey.
Others have lost their lives.
The devestation in Houston saddens Wilson, who has watched the coverage of the storm on televesion and has seen the photos that need no words accompanying them. He knows life in his city will never be the same in a lot of ways for a lot of people.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Wilson, a senior safety for the defending national champion Crusaders. “To see some of the places where I grew up and know the memories of those places won’t ever be the same. Some people lost so much, and my heart goes out to them.”
He’s thankful his family is fine but wishes he could be closer to them during this difficult time. Fortunately, he has been able to stay in touch with him since the storm hit.
“Knowing I wasn’t able to be there with them was tough, but I’m blessed they are OK and safe. And friends back home that I’ve been in contact with are safe, too,” Wilson said.
Wilson feels blessed his teammates from Houston have also received news that their families are fine. He noted it’s also been beneficial to have a coaching staff that has been nothing but supportive to the players who have families impacted by the storm.
“The first thing we did was come together as a team and pray for all of the members of our team impacted by the storm,” Cru head coach Pete Fredenburg said. “All we can do is support them in anything they need.”
Fredenburg is amazed by the outpouring of support people have shown in response to the storm, and he is eager to do his part as well. He’s been told Houston has what it needs for the time being, but knows there may come a time when new needs will arise, and he is willing to help.
As for the season ahead, Fredenburg said his team is focused on the task of laying the foundation for another successful season, a season the Cru hopes ends with another title.
“I think it’s a work in progress,” Fredenburg said. “We've started the process of developing our team. When you’ve experienced the pinnacle of what you want to accomplish, everyone is working hard to get back to that position again. We’ll continue to grow and develop and hopefully get better every week.”
Wilson is expected to play a key role in the push for another champioship and is coming off a season in which he earned honorable mention All-ASC honors.
“I think I’ve improved in every aspect in the offseason, but I don’t worry about personal stats,” Wilson said. “I just want to help the team out any way I can. My goal is to help us win games and be a leader on and off the field.”
Fredenburg speaks highly of Wilson.
“He is one of the most dynamic leaders I’ve been around,” Fredenburg said. “When you talk about leadership, you want someone to be a servant leader, someone who gives himself to benefit the team. He is extraordinary in that. He not only demands a lot of himself, but he demands a lot of those around him.”
Wilson began his football career at Alcorn State but did not play. He transferred to UMHB, and this will be his fourth season with the Cru.
Last year was a dream come true for him.
“It’s the best team I’ve ever been a part of. We pushed each other every day to be the best, and it paid off,” Wilson said. “Winning a championship is something I’ll remember forever.”
Winning another one wouldn’t be a bad thing either. And while his mind will no doubt remain on those in Houston who have a long road ahead, he’s also excited to play football again. The season begins Saturday against Sul Ross State.
“Everyone is going to want to beat us, and we all have to step up, play our roles and give all-out effort. We embrace the challenge in front of us of trying to win a title again, and we are going to work hard to win 15 games again.”
Streak is over
Sewanee has been waiting a long time to win a football game.
Its wait ended Saturday in a 45-20 win over Kenyon that put the brakes on a 19-game losing streak. The win comes in Travis Rundle’s debut as the head coach of the Tigers, who hadn't won a game since their 2015 opener.
The Hearn brothers played a big role. Sam Hearn completed eight of his 16 passes for 150 yards and threw a touchdown pass. Steve Hearn caught four passes for 82 yards and a score on a day when Sewanee put up 40 or more for the first time since 2006.
Hearn isn’t the only option at quarterback for the Tigers. Alex Darras connected on nine of his 16 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown in his first game as a Tiger.
Both quarterbacks were impressive in preseason camp, and considering the way they performed in the opener, Sewanee is likely to utilize both signal-callers going forward.
Stepping up on defense
Sul Ross State linebacker Sarkeithian Thomas returned a fumble 38 yards for a touchdown in a 47-22 win over NCAA Division II opponent UT-Permian Basin on Saturday. Thomas finished his day with nine tackles and also came up with an interception.
The turnover was one of five Sul Ross forced, with four coming off interceptions.
Thomas’ effort helped the Lobos win their third consectuive game dating back to last season and gets things started off on the right foot for a team hoping to string together back-to-back winning seasons. The Lobos were 6-4 a year ago.