Tech Tidbits: Wonder Boys Seek Back-to-Back Victories

Ron Thompson 9-25-2021
Arkansas Tech running back Ron Thompson carries the football against Arkansas-Monticello during a game on Sept. 25.

The sound of several dozen football players and coaches singing never sounded sweeter than it did last Saturday afternoon in Bethany, Okla.

The Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys (1-4) celebrated their first victory since November 2019 by performing their rendition of the ATU fight song with back-up vocals from the Arkansas Tech fans who witnessed the 51-41 victory over Southern Nazarene University.

“To be able to sing the fight song and have that excitement on the way home was a huge day for us,” said Kyle Shipp, ATU head football coach. “There’s a lot of clean up to do before the next game, but earning that first win normally gives guys more confidence and allows them to believe they can get the next one.”

The Wonder Boys’ next one is Saturday, Oct. 9, against Oklahoma Baptist University (3-2). Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field in Russellville. Party at the Plaza tailgating begins at 11 a.m. on the Crabaugh Hall lawn. It will be Kids’ Day Out at ATU. Free tickets will be available for youth in kindergarten through 12th grade at the main stadium entrance.

Oklahoma Baptist leads the Great American Conference in passing offense (295.4 yards per game). Bison senior quarterback Preston Haire, who was named GAC offensive player of the year in 2019, has passed for 9,919 yards and 88 touchdowns in three-and-a-half seasons at Oklahoma Baptist.

“(Haire) is probably the best quarterback in the conference,” said Shipp. “We have to get to him, pressure him, help him make some bad decisions and then we have to be able to capitalize upon those. Oklahoma Baptist has a very good offense, but I think we’ll be up to the task. Our guys just have to compete and make plays.”

The 1971 Arkansas Tech football team knew all about competing and making plays. That group of Wonder Boys went 12-1 overall, won the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference title and advanced to the NAIA National Playoffs championship game under the direction of head coach Don Dempsey.

In recognition of the 50th anniversary of that season, the 2021 Wonder Boys are wearing the same “power T” on both sides of their helmets as the one worn by the 1971 Wonder Boys. The throwback helmet decal made its debut last week at Southern Nazarene and will remain on the sides of the Arkansas Tech helmets for the next several weeks.

“We went over the history of it with our kids, and once they saw it in person they really liked it,” said Shipp. “We’re excited about that look because it pays homage to those who came before us, gave so much and continue to give so much to this university. Hopefully we can go out there and represent that T the right way.”

Pre-game coverage of Saturday’s contest on KCJC 102.3 FM and will begin at 1:30 p.m.

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.