On Saturday, the Bearkat (2-8, 1-3) football team will travel to San Marcos to finish off the season against the Texas State University Bobcats (3-8, 0-4). With a long history that extends over 80 years, the 77th installment of this rivalry will display two struggling teams fighting to stay out of last place in the Southland Conference.
The Bobcats lead the series, 45 victories to 32. Since both teams joined the SLC in 1987, the Kats boast an 11-4-1 record including last year’s victory, 21-14.
“This is a good rivalry, and rivalry games are always a little better,” said head coach Ron Randleman. “This is a very good rivalry, and what a lot of people don’t realize is that for us, Stephen F. Austin is our biggest rival, but for the people in San Marcos, we are their biggest rivalry.”
Throughout the season, Randleman has called upon three different quarterbacks: freshmen Wade Pate, Adam Karas and junior Travis Tobaben. Tobaben has been the starter in the last two games due to an unhealthy Pate.
This week Pate will back but Randleman said that if Karas is healthy then he should get some snaps in the first half.
“We might use all three (quarterbacks),” said Randleman. “We will do whatever we need to do in order to win the ball game.”
Sophomore running back Jason Godfrey has evolved into the workhorse for the Kats as the season has progressed. Over the last four weeks, he has posted over a hundred yards a game and crept to the top as one of the SLC’s top running backs.
Randleman said that he would like to try get the ball to Godfrey 20-25 times in order to add stability to the offense.
“We need to have a good balance and mix,” said Randleman. “Over the last six weeks we have really began to move the ball successfully, and we need to continue that.”
So far this season the Bobcats have primarily looked to the air in order to move the ball. Sophomore quarterback Barrick Nealy is one of the SLC’s top passers. He leads a Bobcat offense that brings a unique offensive formation that consists of no tight ends.
Randleman said that if the defensive gives Nealy time, then he would be effective.
“Their quarterback is a talented guy. He has came out in some games this season and looked very good,” said Randleman. “The key is to get pressure on him so he doesn’t get too comfortable.”
The Kats entered the season with a roster that consisted of over half the team being freshmen and sophomores. 10 seniors will be sporting the orange for
the last time. Some of the graduating seniors include star linebacker T.J. Dibble, senior defensive back Andrew Higham and offensive lineman Travis Maxey.
“This is the last game for the seniors,” said Randleman. “They would like to come out of this game with a victory, and I am sure the rest of the team wants to get them that win as well.”
The Kats final game of the 2003 season will be Saturday in San Marcos. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.