Wonder Boys Visit SNU Saturday Afternoon

Team chemistry is often difficult to describe, but Arkansas Tech University head football coach Raymond Monica knows what it sounds like.

“This group really likes being around one another,” said Monica of his undefeated and nationally 16th-ranked Wonder Boys. “You can see it at practice and how they act. It doesn’t matter if it’s offense or defense, if someone does well, you hear ‘great catch’ or ‘good play over there’ or ‘good job there.’ All of them are in this together, working extremely hard and doing the right things.”

Arkansas Tech (3-0) will visit Southern Nazarene University (2-1) for a 1 p.m. Great American Conference contest at the SNU Football Stadium in Bethany, Okla., on Saturday, Sept. 23. Live coverage will be available from radio station KCJC 102.3 FM and www.arkansastechsports.com.

A win would give the Wonder Boys their fifth start of 4-0 or better this century. Tech started 5-0 in 2001, 9-0 in 2004, 5-0 in 2005 and 4-0 in 2015.

Southern Nazarene stunned the GAC with a 28-27 win at defending conference champion Harding University last Saturday. The Crimson Storm scored two touchdowns in the final 49 seconds to earn its second consecutive victory.

“I give Southern Nazarene all the credit for the way they fought all game long to put themselves in position to win that football game,” said Monica. “For them to do what they did was remarkable. You could see this team plays with a lot of passion and a lot of emotion. They’re probably at the all-time high they’ve ever been in (NCAA) Division II.”

SNU’s start is particularly surprising given its history. The Crimson Storm compiled a cumulative overall record of 5-50 during its first five seasons of NCAA Division II and GAC competition from 2012-16. Southern Nazarene was picked to finish last in the GAC in the 2017 preseason poll.

“(SNU) is 100 percent better than they have been on special teams in the past,” said Monica. “Their kickers are doing a good job and they’re doing a good job covering. That’s the part they’ve improved in the most.”

Arkansas Tech enters the weekend tied with Southeastern Oklahoma State University for first place in the GAC standings. Saturday will mark the first of three trips to Oklahoma for the Wonder Boys during their 2017 schedule.

“I’m looking forward to watching this team play and to see how we respond to three wins in a row,” said Monica. “We’ll see what our team is going to be all about in terms of going on the road and competing.”