By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
Told of Texas A&M-Kingsville’s shocking 41-14 loss at Midwestern State last Saturday moments after his own team’s setback against Tarleton State, Eastern New Mexico University football coach Mark Ribaudo cringed.
Kingsville doesn’t lose often — and rarely are the Javelinas embarrassed.
With that in mind, Ribaudo knows the Greyhounds face a daunting task when they visit Kingsville for a 6 p.m. (MDT) Lone Star Conference South Division clash today.
The Javelinas (5-2, 1-2 South) have won or shared four consecutive LSC overall titles, a streak which was put in serious jeopardy with the loss to Midwestern.
In addition to facing an angry opponent, the Greyhounds have never won at Kingsville.
“It’s a long trip,” said Ribaudo, whose team dropped a 34-27 decision to Tarleton. “It’s going to be hard for us to go down there and play well against a good football team.
“They’re a balanced team (on offense); they’ve got some weapons. Their defense is athletic and sound, and their kicking game is good.”
ENMU (4-4, 2-2) is continuing what amounts to a “Murderers Row” schedule. After handing Angelo State its only loss of the year three weeks ago, the Hounds dropped a 52-51 overtime shootout at unbeaten West Texas A&M before losing to Tarleton (6-1, 2-1).
And waiting for the Hounds next week? Midwestern State (3-4), which won its first South game by crushing the Javelinas.
Ribaudo wasn’t as much surprised by the Indians’ win as the way they did it.
“Midwestern’s got a lot of good athletes,” he said. “Midwestern might have lost a couple of games, but they might be the best-looking team (in the South).
“And that’s not an easy trip for Kingsville (to Wichita Falls).”
With their division hopes hanging by a thread, the Javs are now more focused on trying to earn an NCAA Division II playoff berth. They are ranked 10th in the Southwest Region, with the top six teams qualifying for postseason.
Veteran coach Richard Cundiff was not happy with last week’s game and has declined all media interview requests this week, Kingsville sports information director Derek Smolik said.
“I think there’s a lot of frustration right now because we may have lost a chance at the playoffs,” Smolik said. “I don’t think much has changed from last week to this week, except there’s more of a sense of urgency.”
Smolik said the Javs knew Midwestern had talent, but they weren’t ready for what hit them.
“That was what Midwestern should be,” he said. “They’ve lost a lot of games by not that many points.
“They came out ready to play, and we didn’t play at that level.”
While the Hounds’ work is cut out tonight, they’ve acquitted themselves well against some of the league’s better teams in recent weeks.
They’ll need another strong effort against the Javs.
“That’s the kind of league it is this year,” Ribaudo said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen on any given Saturday.”