After winning its last two games, including Saturday’s thrilling 29-27 verdict over Adams State, the Chadron State College football team will strive to make it three in a row this Saturday while playing at Colorado State-Pueblo in a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference matchup. Kickoff will be at 2 o’clock.
Pueblo has a 4-3 record. The ThunderWolves won their season opener 59-27 over Midwestern State of Texas, but lost the next three to Grand Valley State of Michigan 35-10, Western Colorado 17-10 and Colorado Mines 45-17.
Since then, the Pack, as the CSU-P gridders are often known, has won three straight—75-3 over Fort Lewis, 52-20 over Adams State and 35-11 last Saturday at New Mexico Highlands.
Pueblo’s rushing game was not up to par in some of the early games. It managed just 75 yards on the ground against Grand Valley and 60 against Western Colorado. Highlands also limited the Pack to 138 yards rushing this past week.
For the season, Pueblo has rushed for a per game average of 164 yards and passed for 237. The Eagles’ corresponding numbers through seven games are 168 rushing and 192 passing.
The Wolves’ leading rushers are Austin Bacher, 6-2, 218, with 60 carries for 310 yards, and Kiahn Martinez, 5-8, 185, with 45 totes for 235 yards. CSC’s top rushers are Jalen Starks with 85 carries for 431 yards and Jeydon Cox with 49 for 214.
The Eagles will again be without talented sophomore Dorian Collier, who sustained a badly sprained ankle against Colorado Mines after rushing 34 times for 198 yards prior to the injury.
Two Pueblo quarterbacks have each played in six games. Senior Hunter Raquet, 6-4, 215, is listed as this week’s probable starter. He has completed 53 of 82 passes for 749 yards and 10 touchdowns. Sophomore Steve Croell, now listed as the third-stringer, has hit on 75 of 123 tosses for 849 yards and seven TDs.
Max Fine has been the busiest receiver with 27 catches for 318 yards, followed by Andy Cook with 21 for 295.
All five offensive line starters are seniors. They include Elijah Reed, a 6-6, 302-pound tackle.
Chadron State is hopeful that its all-conference tackle, Juan Estrada-Sanchez, 6-4, 320, is ready to play Saturday after missing the last two games because of an ankle problem.
While starting the last three games after two older quarterbacks were injured, redshirt freshman Preston Pearson is the Eagles’ passing leader, clicking on 55 of 80 attempts (68.8%) for 665 yards and six TDs. The passes have been spread around. Tight end Peter Krohn has become the busiest receiver with 23 for 252 yards.
The ThunderWolves have been a tough customer for the Eagles almost since the Pueblo football program was revived in 2008. CSC won the first game 32-0, but the ThunderWolves have won all 12 since then. Two of the early games went into overtime.
Last year, the Eagles scored the first 10 points, were penalized just once, but turned the ball over five times and lost to the Coloradans 42-17.
Chadron State is not the only team that has struggled against Pueblo. John Wristen began this year, his 15th as the head coach, with a 123-32 record. During that span, the ThunderWolves have won RMAC championships and advanced to the NCAA II Playoffs seven times.