COLORADO SPRINGS - CSU-Pueblo head football coach John Wristen began the perennial "preseason preview season" Thursday when he appeared at the Colorado Springs Sports Corp luncheon in Colorado Springs, joined by head coaches from Air Force, Colorado, Colorado State and Northern Colorado.
CSU-Pueblo, in its second season of existence since the program returned after a 24-year hiatus in 2008, is returning 20 starters on offense and defense, and will have just eight seniors on the roster in 2009. Wristen told the crowd that being a young team with primarily freshman and sophomores gives the players ownership over the program and provides a good foundation for a championship program to be built.
"We have great excitement around our program in Pueblo, thanks to the fan and community support, and we have a chance to build a great program over the years," Wristen said. "Our kids are able to sell our program [to incoming freshman] and it enables freshman to buy in and continue the tradition we're trying to build."
Wristen held his own in the Division-I-centric crowd at the event, promoting year two as a cricial year in the life of the CSU-Pueblo football program and touting the challenge of their first opponent, Eastern New Mexico, which visits the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl on Aug. 29. The Lone Star Conference squad went 2-9 in 2008, but longtime ThunderWolf football fans will remember the two teams' last meeting, a 70-13 win by Eastern New Mexico in 1984 that many in the ThunderWolf football program still remember.
"Eastern New Mexico is a great team and will pose a challenge for us," Wristen said. "It will give us a chance to see how good we can be this season."
Football athletes report Aug. 5 for their first practice, which takes place at midnight. CSU-Pueblo will host six home games this season, headlined by its opener vs. Eastern New Mexico Aug. 29, homecoming vs. Western State on Oct. 24, and the CSU-Pueblo Hall of Fame Game on Oct. 31 vs. Western New Mexico.