Josh Lynn is eager for his first game as Eastern New Mexico University's football coach.
The Greyhounds open the 2012 season with a 6 p.m. kickoff today against New Mexico Highlands at Las Vegas, N.M., and Lynn is anxious to see just what the Hounds can do.
"It's a good game for us to get going," said Lynn, a former ENMU player and assistant coach hired to replace Mark Ribaudo after last season. "It's an instate rival. It's the first game of a new era, so we'd like to try to put our best foot forward."
If tonight's game is anything like last year's, it will be a down-to-the-wire thriller. The Cowboys erased a 28-0 halftime deficit at Blackwater Draw with 36 unanswered points, then scored in overtime to stun the Hounds 43-36.
"They (Hounds) just didn't finish the game," Lynn said. "Hopefully, we can finish the game this year."
The victory catapulted the Eric Young-coached Cowboys to a 4-0 start last fall, including three wins by a total of 10 points, before a 15-14 setback to Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference foe Western State sent them into a seven-game tailspin to end the season. Four of those losses were by a touchdown or less.
Lynn said the Hounds will continue to put the ball in the air with third-year starter Wes Wood of Muleshoe at quarterback, but there will definitely be more of a balanced attack than in the recent past.
"We're going to establish everything with the run," he said. "Coming out of camp and seeing what we've got, we've got to be able to run the football."
Lynn wants to use the team's first two games — the Hounds host Sul Ross State in their home opener next week — to see just where his squad is before it hits the Lone Star Conference schedule with a game against Incarnate Word on Sept. 14 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
"We're ready to hit somebody in an opposite-colored jersey," he said. "We've been hitting on each other in camp for two weeks, so it'll be good to hit on somebody else."
ENMU (0-0) at New Mexico Highlands (0-0)
6 p.m. today at Las Vegas, N.M.
• Radio: KSEL-FM 105.9.
• Coaches: ENMU, Josh Lynn, 1st year, 0-0; New Mexico Highlands, Eric Young, 2nd year, 4-7.
• Last meeting: 2011, ENMU led 28-0 at halftime before the Cowboys rallied to post a 43-36 win in overtime.
• Highlands players to watch: Emmanuel Lewis, 6-3, 190, Jr., QB; Kevon Williams, 6-0, 170, Sr., WR; Jordan Campbell, 6-0, 230, Sr., LB; Devin Howard, 6-3, 260, Sr., DL; Abdul Kanneh, 6-0, 170, Sr., CB.
• Notes: The Hounds are 30-11 all-time against NMHU. … Last year's meeting was the first between the teams since 2003, when ENMU won 45-14 at Blackwater Draw. … ENMU had won three in a row in the series. The Cowboys' previous win came in 2000, a 30-22 decision at Las Vegas. … Beyond Sports College Network recognized Campbell (first team), Kanneh (third team) and Howard (honorable mention) in its preseason NCAA Division II All-American selections. … While the Hounds were picked for eighth place this season in the nine-team Lone Star Conference, the Cowboys tied for sixth with Western New Mexico (out of 10 teams) in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference poll.
• Quotable: "I think we've made some good strides. I think our kids are buying into what we're doing with our overall team philosophy, which is ball-control and playing good defense." — Lynn.
— Compiled by Dave Wagner