CHADRON, Neb. — October 3, 2019 — With their season nearing the halfway point, the Chadron State Eagles travel high into the Rocky Mountains on Saturday to play the Western Colorado Mountaineers in Gunnison. Kickoff for the homecoming game will be 1 o’clock.
The game will have an interesting sidelight. The top three coaches at Western are very familiar with Chadron State football lore.
Head Coach Jas Bains was on the Eagles’ staff five years, three of them as the special teams coordinator, before moving to Gunnison as an assistant. He’s now in his ninth year as the program’s head mentor.
Todd Auer spent 22 years at CSC, including the last 17 as the defensive coordinator when the Eagles often led the RMAC in numerous defensive categories. This is his fourth season in that position with the Mountaineers.
And, this year, Joe McLain, one of the Eagles’ all-time great players, signed on as the Western quarterback coach and passing game coordinator. All McLain did while quarterbacking the Eagles 2005-08 was complete 658 of 1,088 passes for 8,011 yards and 70 touchdowns. More importantly, CSC won 38 of the 42 games he started during his career.
The Mountaineers will enter Saturday’s game with a 2-2 record. They opened the season by losing to Idaho State, an NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision team 38-18, but downed South Dakota Mines 27-7 and slipped past Colorado Mesa 30-28 by booting a field goal on the final play of the game.
This past Saturday while Mesa outscored the Eagles 22-7 in the fourth quarter for 42-30 win, Adams State squeezed out a 38-31 decision over the Mountaineers when the Grizzlies scored a touchdown with 29 seconds remaining and Western fumbled away the ensuing kickoff
Adams State had led 28-7 in the third period before Western rallied to tie the score 31-31 with less than two minutes remaining.
With only wide receiver Zach Manchester listed as a senior, among the offensive starters, Western has not racked up impressive offensive numbers. Although the Mountaineers rushed for 280 yards against South Dakota Mines, they managed only 87 on the ground against Idaho State, 33 against Mesa and 86 against Adams State.
Sophomore quarterback Connor Desch took up some of the slack against Adams State by completing 24 of 39 passes for 270 yards.
Chadron State goes to Gunnison with a disappointing 1-3 record after losing its last three contests. The Eagles are definitely not inept, averaging 465.8 yards a game, but have scored just three points in the first quarter and have been outscored 75-22 in the first halves of their four contests. Punting problems took a major toll during the second game against Colorado State-Pueblo and the foes have turned five turnovers into touchdowns the last two weeks.
A few changes have been made in the Eagles’ offensive line. Senior Jared Maciejczak has moved from center to right guard, redshirt freshman Michael DeCamillis is now listed as the starting center and sophomore Austin Rapp has taken over at left guard after missing the first two games after recovering from surgery.
Chadron speedster Jackson Dickerson hopes to return to the receiving corps after missing the last two games because of a leg injury. Safety Tyree Fryar, CSC’s third leading tackler through the first three games, also missed the Mesa game because of a concussion, but is on the two-deep depth chart for this week.