Western Courier

Football prepares for season opener

Justin Fitzpatrck goes to take down Missouri State runner.

Justin Fitzpatrck goes to take down Missouri State runner.

File Photo

File Photo

Justin Fitzpatrck goes to take down Missouri State runner.

Haley Richards, Sports Editor

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Macomb, Ill. — The Western Illinois football team is just 10 days away from their season opener against Montana State University. This is the first season for head coach Jared Elliot, who was named head coach last spring.

Camp, or preseason, has just ended for the Leathernecks as they now look to prepare for their first game.

“Camp has been really good. We’ve got a lot of work in, and we’ve had a lot of guys that are getting reps in, which is good,” Elliott said. “Our effort and energy have been really good through the first eight days of practice. We’re a long ways away execution wise; we’ve got to continue to clean up a lot of things on both sides of the ball, but that’s what camp is for, we’re seeing some of the guys make some major strides. And at this point, I’m encouraged, but we still have a lot of work to do.”

Western is returning key players such as senior quarterback Sean McGuire, senior running back Steve McShane, senior defensive lineman Khalen Saunders, senior defensive back Justin Fitzpatrick and senior linebacker Quentin Moon. All five players were named to the Missouri Valley Football preseason all-conference selections.

“There’s been a lot of really good give and take, and when I say that I mean there’s been some good back and forth between our offense and defense which is what you want to see. It’s been very competitive and that challenges each unit and each side of the ball to really respond,” Elliot said. “It hasn’t been a lopsided camp where one unit has just outplayed the other.”

Aside from the returners, Western will be adding 24 new freshman and transfer players; some of them coming from schools such as Ohio State University, Duke University and Coastal Carolina University.

“It’s always good to see the guys you recruit here in full pads and playing football. With the newcomers, it’s been exciting to see how quickly some of these guys have improved as they start to learn our scheme and get comfortable with what we’re doing. Over a week of time, a lot of guys are starting to make some really good jumps, some steps, in the right direction,” Elliot said.

Last season, the Purple and Gold had an 8-4 overall record, putting them in the FCS Playoffs, where they fell to Weber State University by a close score of 21-19. This season, Western will face teams such as in-state rivals, University of Illinois and Illinois State University.

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Football prepares for season opener