It is true that Arkansas Tech University's Homecoming Saturday setback at Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field means the Wonder Boys will finish with a losing record for a third consecutive football season.
But ATU's 41-38 overtime loss to nationally 20th-ranked Henderson State University was also the latest in a series of signs that the Wonder Boys are making progress in the rebuilding of their program.
“There are still things we have to get better at, but our overall effort for four quarters was one of the best of the year,” said Kyle Shipp, ATU head football coach. “I think our culture is finally to the point that our guys understand there are certain ways we have to do things, and when we do it that way, we can compete with anyone. I saw that after the (Henderson State) game. Guys weren’t hanging their heads, and that’s carried over to practice this week.
“Our theme for this week is trust,” continued Shipp. “Our guys have to trust that if we continue to inch-by-inch improve a little bit every week, it will pay off. The process sometimes takes time. The process is painful sometimes. But if you trust it and fully commit to it, good things will happen.”
Arkansas Tech (2-6) will visit Southwestern Oklahoma State University (0-8) for a 5:30 p.m. Great American Conference contest at Milam Stadium in Weatherford, Okla., on Saturday, Oct. 30. Radio station KCJC 102.3 FM and www.arkansastechsports.com will provide live coverage.
SWOSU has lost 10 consecutive games dating back to Nov. 2, 2019, but five of the Bulldogs’ last six games have been decided by 10 points or less.
“They’ve just made some costly mistakes,” said Shipp when asked about Southwestern Oklahoma State. “I’ve told our guys all week we cannot prepare for an 0-8 team. We have to prepare for an 8-0 team because (SWOSU) is hungry for a win. It’s their Homecoming and they have every reason to want to get this one. (SWOSU) has a good team. The question is whether we can continue to put them in positions where they make mistakes and we play our kind of football.”
After the trip to Weatherford, Arkansas Tech will close out its 106th football season with back-to-back home games against Northwestern Oklahoma State University on Saturday, Nov. 6, and Harding University on Saturday, Nov. 13. Both of those games are set for 2 p.m. kickoffs.
“We’ll make sure some of our younger guys get some more playing time over these next few weeks,” said Shipp. “We want to finish strong for our older guys. Those guys have been here for three-to-five years, put a lot in this program and I want them to enjoy success in their final few games.”
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.