Pirates open season in clash with Cowboys
2014 Southwestern Football
Southwestern Pirates (0-0)
vs. Hardin-Simmons Cowboys (0-0)
Saturday | September 6 | 7 p.m.
Tickets (Purchase) | Tailgating Information | Georgetown ISD Athletic Complex (Directions) | Georgetown (Weather)
VIDEO/AUDIO: KMAC Sports
Merle Bertrand (play-by-play), Todd York (color), Daniel Chancellor (sideline)
LIVE STATS: Live Stats Link
The Pirates and Cowboys renew their rivalry on Saturday as the two teams meet up for the first time since Southwestern reinstated football.
This will be the 13th meeting all-time between Southwestern and Hardin-Simmons as the Cowboys hold a 7-2-2 advantage in the series. The two teams met every year from 1926-34 and then again in 1947 and 1948 alternating sites. HSU won the last two meetings between the two schools.
Joe Austin (Concordia-St. Paul '01)
Austin is in his sixth year as a head coach and second at Southwestern after spending the previous four seasons at Hanover College where he led the Panthers to back-to-back second place finishes in the HCAC. He was also the offensive coordinator at the University of Dubuque after spending time at Augsburg College and his alma mater, Concordia-St. Paul.
Jesse Burleson (Hardin-Simmons '99)
Burleson enters his fourth season at his alma mater where he holds a 16-14 overall record. The Cowboys finished 4-6 last year after back-to-back 6-4 campaigns under Burleson. After an all-American career at HSU, Burleson worked at Odessa Permian, Temple High, and South Gran Prairie before returning to coach the Cowboys.
• The Pirates open the 2014 season against Hardin-Simmons from the American Southwest Conference. Last year, the Pirates and Cowboys shared two common opponents, East Texas Baptist and Texas Lutheran, both HSU wins.
• As part of a NCAA rules provision, Southwestern traveled to Germany as part of a study abroad tour that culminated with a game against the Stuttgart Scorpions – a professional team in Germany. The Pirates were also the first collegiate football team in the state of Texas to embark on the study abroad tour. The trip included visits to a variety of businesses and cultural sites while the Pirates were also able to take a 48-7 win over Stuttgart before returning home to Texas.
• Last year the Pirates opened the season in front of the largest crowd in SCAC history - in any sport. More than 7,000 fans watch Southwestern host Texas Lutheran in the Pirates return to the gridiron.
• Several talented Pirates changed positions in the off-season as the Team First concept has caught on. Don't see your favorite Pirate at the same position? They are more than likely still here, just a change of position or number.
• The retention rate for Pirate football was among tops in the SCAC. After a class of more than 100 first-year student-athletes, Southwestern welcomes back over 50 percent of its offense, and more than 75 percent of their defense statistics.
• Southwestern and Hardin-Simmons played 11 times from 1926-48 as the Cowboys hold a slight edge in the series.
• Players to watch in 2014? Keep an eye on defensive end Justin Broussard (Beaumont, Texas/Monsignor Kelly Catholic) who finished second in the SCAC in sacks and was fourth in tackles for a loss.
SCOUTING THE PIRATES
The Pirates return four of their top five biggest offensive producers from last season. The defense also returns four All-SCAC performers from a year ago including First-Teamers, Justin Broussard and Tyler Frisby.
After some off-season personnel moves, the Pirates have found a mix that helped guide them to a win in Germany during the spring. Bryan Hicks returns to quarterback after starting the final three games of 2013 while Dante Smith joins All-SCAC selection Matt Gillen at wide receiver as do returners John Free and Kenneth Wynn. In the backfield Dylan Wilburn was the leading rusher and returns, but will get help as Justin Pelt moves from quarterback to running back.
As previously mentioned the Southwestern defense features Justin Broussard and Tyler Frisby who turned in all-conference performances last season. Both finished in the top 10 in several SCAC categories, but will have help from defensive end, Alex Lee and defensive tackle, Alex Tyson. A young group in the secondary will need to step up quick to help the Pirates compete in a pass-happy conference.
Laith Tucker worked during spring camp with Green Bay Packers kicker and volunteer coach Mason Crosby. He has improved and will handle punting and kicking duties. Alan Peralta returns as the Pirates return man and will be joined on kickoffs by the speedy Colton Williams.
SCOUTING THE COWBOYS
After back-to-back 6-4 seasons to start the Jesse Burleson era at Hardin-Simmons, the Cowboys turned in an uncharacteristic, 4-6 campaign. Picked to finish third in a tough ASC, the Cowboys return Preseason Special Teams Player of the Year and All-American, Jessie Ramos.
An early season three-way battle to find a signal caller between Evin Abbe, Ryan Breton and Weston Garner saw Abbe edge out the competition and will be Saturday's starter. HSU returns a talented running back in Bryce Johnson who earned action after an injury to the starter last year in week seven. Johnson finished with 451 yards and six scores while adding 22 catches and four more scores. At wide receiver the Cowboys are loaded after a disappointing 2013 season. Jimmie Simpson and Trei Lewis return after six 100-yard games in 2012 with the aforementioned Ramos.
Experienced is the best word to describe the HSU defense. With 108 career starts between 17 guys on defense, the Cowboys look to improve under new defensive coordinator, Zach Wilkerson. James Place and Ryne Lewis are juniors who have started since day one, with All-ASC lineman Korey Azvala returning for his junior season as well.
Nico Francino will take over as the punter and handle kickoffs again and the Cowboys brought in several kickers to try and replace the reliable Mike Hursh.