LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - The McNeese football team has waited a long time for Saturday— 448 days to be exact. For the first time since November 2019, the Cowboys will compete in an interscholastic football competition. Since then, plenty has happened all over the world, but especially here in Southwest Louisiana.
Despite the pandemic, social unrest and a double dose of hurricanes this fall - college football returns to Lake Charles. The players need it. The coaches need it. The community needs it.
Luckily, the FBS laid the blueprint of what football in a pandemic will look like. Now, the FCS gets the chance to feed America’s obsession with the sport and become the only football show in town.
The seven-game spring season will be an interesting one for McNeese with the Pokes going through plenty of personnel changes this offseason as well.
The Cowboys will play without a defensive coordinator after Grady Brown left to coach cornerbacks at the University of Houston just ten days before kickoff. Head coach Frank Wilson said he’s shifted over to assist with the defense as it’ll take a team effort to replace Brown. Wilson said the team is treating his loss like “long-term Covid” this season.
The team also has 20 new faces, with many taking on starting roles like Isaiah Chambers, Joshua Matthews and Jamal Pettigrew. That said, McNeese lost 21 players over the last year, including All-Conference players Darion Dunn (Texas), Colby Burton (Hawaii) and Cyron Sutton (Tulane).
With changes and challenges coming into the season, many are wondering what this McNeese football team will look like.
Will the team struggle to gel with so many new faces and the pressure of an unorthodox season looming over them? Will the Pokes’ resiliency and talent shine through led by a head coach who is making his debut some 13 months after landing the job? The latter may be the safe bet after the perseverance shown by this group of Cowboys leading into the season.
We’ll see Saturday at Tarleton State.