Wonder Boys Head to SW Baptist Saturday

Two teams that experienced opposite beginnings to their 2011 football seasons will meet when the Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys visit the Southwest Baptist Bearcats in non-conference action on Saturday, Sept. 10. Kickoff at Plaster Stadium in Bolivar, Mo., is set for 6 p.m. Radio station KWKK 100.9 FM will have the broadcast in the Arkansas River valley beginning with the pre-game show at 5:30 p.m.

Click here to access an Internet stream of the broadcast.

Arkansas Tech led Arkansas-Monticello 31-10 after three quarters in its season and Great American Conference opener last Saturday, but the Boll Weevils scored 28 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to win 38-31.

It was the Wonder Boys’ first season-opening loss since 2003. It was UAM’s first victory over Arkansas Tech since 2001. “The biggest thing is we need to re-focus,” said Tech head coach Steve Mullins. “A lot went into the UAM game emotionally and mentally. I’m not concerned about bouncing back physically, but we have to keep believing in ourselves and have confidence in ourselves. This is the time to pull for each other. We have to rebound mentally and emotionally.” Southwest Baptist’s emotions were on the other end of the spectrum after week one. The Bearcats came back from a 19-7 halftime deficit to defeat Bacone College (Okla.) 28-19 last Saturday in Muskogee, Okla. Quarterback Justin French completed 18-of-30 passes for 148 yards and one touchdown in the win. It was his first start succeeding Steve Gachette as the Southwest Baptist quarterback.

Gachette, who signed a professional contract with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League this summer, passed for 12,227 yards and established 18 school records during his four years with the Bearcats. “I think the biggest difference between Southwest Baptist a year ago and this year is the quarterback,” said Mullins. “Last year they had a run-pass threat in Steve Gachette, and the young man they have in that position this year got off to a good start against Bacone. Even with the change at quarterback, they are doing a lot of the same things in their attack. We’re going to have to really lock down on defense and know our assignments.” Arkansas Tech defeated Southwest Baptist 42-14 at Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field in Russellville in the final game of the 2010 season. The Wonder Boys held the Bearcats to 205 yards of total offense, in part because Southwest Baptist did not have the football very often. Arkansas Tech’s time of possession was 44:27, compared to 15:33 for the Bearcats. Saturday will mark the Wonder Boys’ first visit to Bolivar since 1998, when they defeated Southwest Baptist 44-12. Arkansas Tech is 4-0 all-time against the Bearcats. The trip north will also mark the beginning of five consecutive non-conference games for the Wonder Boys. They will not play another GAC contest until they visit Southern Arkansas on Oct. 15. “We have to approach each of these games one by one and improve each week,” said Mullins. “It’s just that simple. We didn’t start the season the way we wanted to, but we have a chance to do something about it. Our guys have to stay focused on what our goals are, and hopefully we have enough maturity about us to do that. With the leadership of our captains, seniors and coaches, I think we’ll be just fine.” Arkansas Tech will host Delta State in non-conference action on Saturday, Sept. 17. Kickoff for the Wonder Boys’ home opener is set for 6 p.m.

Party at the Plaza, the pre-game tailgating celebration held outside Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field before every Arkansas Tech home football game, will begin at 4 p.m.