DURANT, Okla. — The Tyler Fenwick era of Southeastern Oklahoma State football will open at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday at Paul Laird Field against one of its longest running rivals, Southwestern Oklahoma State.
The two teams will clash for the 88th time in school history, with Southeastern holding a 47-37-3 lead in the series, including a two-game winning streak.
When the team’s met last season, Rollin Kinsaul threw for a season-high 324 yards and connected on three touchdowns to lift the Savage Storm to a 31-20 victory.
Kinsaul returns for his senior season and will be looking to build on his 1,481 yards and six touchdowns in 2018 when he was splitting time as the signal caller.
While the top target from a year ago is gone, the Storm return three of its-top four receivers.
Braxton Kincade hauled in 41 receptions for 519 yards and two scores while Felton Hatcher posted 34 catches for 428 yards and a score. Skye Lowe was next with 20 catches for 190 yards and a TD.
The rushing attack will be led by CJ Shavers, who posted 149 yards on 43 carries with a score a season ago but won the starting nod heading into 2019. He will be backed by Rashod Polk, who sat out in 2018, but was the team’s top runner in 2017 with 739 yards on 136 carries and seven touchdowns.
The defense returns its top tackler — and the number three tackler in the GAC — in Conner Swope, who collected 116 stops on the year, and he will be joined in the linebacking corps by Jared Bell, who led the team with four sacks in 2018.
The defensive line is anchored by All-GAC performer Jonathan Torres and he is joined by returners Drew McBeth and Rogerick Kirby.
Keelan Chilton is the lone returner to see starting time in the secondary as he posted 14 tackles and five pass breakups and he will be joined by Jeremiah Baltrp at the opposite corner while both safeties are new to the starting role with Josh Mulumba at strong safety and Ja’Lon Freeman at free safety.
Despite a fourth-place finish a season ago, Southeastern was tabbed sixth in the Great American Conference preseason poll, but was picked highest among the Oklahoma contingency in the league.
Southwestern Oklahoma State was picked 10th and finished in a four-way tie for ninth in 2018.
The Bulldogs return 38 letterwinners and 13 starters and will be turning to Tyler Marr at quarterback after a limited performance in 2018 as the backup, completing 8-of-15 passes for 95 yards and a TD.
SWOSU returns two of its top five receivers, led by Jared Rayburn, who had 524 yards and six touchdowns on 33 catches, while completely replacing its running game with Tristian Houston and Kenny Graham.
Defensively the Bulldogs bring back their No. 2 tackler Jacob Rodman, who had 58 stops, as well as its entire secondary, led by Jalen Carr, who had 40 tackles, four interceptions and 15 total passes defended.