As Arkansas Tech University prepares to celebrate its ATU Athletics Hall of Fame class of 2023, it seems appropriate that Henderson State University will be the Wonder Boys’ hall of fame weekend opponent for a 6 p.m. contest at Simmons Bank Field at Thone Stadium in Russellville on Saturday, Sept. 16.
After all, Arkansas Tech earned the nickname for its men’s athletics teams with a win over Henderson State 103 years ago. John Tucker and the Second District Agricultural School Aggies defeated what was then known as Henderson-Brown College 13-0 on Nov. 16, 1920. Wonder Boys appeared as a proper noun in reference to the Second District Agricultural School football team the next day in the Arkansas Gazette. The new moniker stuck and has been part of Arkansas Tech ever since.
In addition, Henderson State is the Wonder Boys’ most frequent football opponent. Saturday will mark the 95th meeting between the two programs, which is more games than Arkansas Tech has played against Ouachita Baptist University (86), Southern Arkansas University (85), the University of Central Arkansas (84), the University of Arkansas-Monticello (78) and every other opponent it has faced over 108 seasons.
The recent history of the football series between Arkansas Tech and Henderson State has been painted red and gray. The Reddies have won 10 of the last 11 meetings, and the Wonder Boys have not defeated HSU at their home stadium in Russellville since 2005.
Henderson State (2-0) is ranked No. 23 in the American Football Coaches Association NCAA Division II poll. HSU quarterback Andrew Edwards ranks second in the Great American Conference in passing (289 yards per game) this season.
“(Edwards) has done a really good job taking care of the football and pushing it vertically,” said Kyle Shipp, ATU head football coach. “Henderson has some guys in their receiver room who can really run well and they do a good job finding and exposing holes in your secondary. I think they’re a very balanced team. There’s a reason why Coach (Scott) Maxfield in the winningest coach in Henderson State history. He does a great job of putting a good team out there on a weekly basis.”
Arkansas Tech (0-2) has lost its first two games by a combined total of nine points.
This Saturday, the Wonder Boys will attempt to defeat an opponent from inside the State of Arkansas for the first time since Sept. 9, 2017. Who was the opponent the last time Arkansas Tech achieved that feat? It was a nationally-ranked Henderson State team. Maybe history will repeat itself with the ATU Athletics Hall of Fame class of 2023 in the crowd this weekend.
“You have to figure out a way to be 1 percent better every day,” said Shipp. “If we can be 1 percent better every day as we get ready for this game, I feel like we’ll have a chance to win. I believe in this team. I believe in our coaching staff. I believe we can win this game. Wholeheartedly.”
Read more about the ATU Athletics Hall of Fame class of 2023 at https://arkansastechsports.com/news/2023/5/25/general-arkansas-tech-announces-2023-athletic-hall-of-fame-class.aspx.
Tickets for Saturday’s contest may be purchased at www.arkansastechsports.com/tickets. Party at the Plaza tailgating will begin outside the stadium on Centennial Plaza at 3 p.m.
Live coverage of the ATU-HSU game will be available on KCJC 102.3 FM, www.arkansastechsports.com and the EAB Media Group app.
Talk to you on the radio.
Tech Tidbits is a column written by Sam Strasner, ATU director of university relations and radio play-by-play voice for ATU football and basketball.