Motivated Gorillas to meet #13 UCM in season opener Thursday

Pitt State aims to knock off a top-15 team in their opener.

PITTSBURG, Kan. – The Pittsburg State Gorillas will open up the season on Thursday, hitting the road to face Central Missouri.

It’s a big one for the Gorillas right off the bat, facing a UCM team that finished 2nd in the MIAA in 2019, and is ranked #13 in the nation in the AFCA preseason poll.

Thursday’s opener is a nice test for a PSU squad that’s picked to finish 7th in the MIAA by the league’s coaches.

“We got picked 7th in the conference in the coaches poll. That’s what we’re looking at right now and using that as motivation,” says senior DE Kaden Roy, “The national rankings don’t really matter to us. Every day we wake up and see that we were ranked #7 in the league. That’s what’s been driving us these last few weeks. Right now we’re just focused on what we can control. If they happen to be ranked where they’re ranked, so be it. We’re looking forward to that test.”

“It’s definitely a motivating factor, that other coaches look at us as an average team,” says QB Mak Sexton, “We got some stuff to prove. We’re definitely going to go out and try to make a statement with this game. Like Kaden said, we can only control what we can control. If we go out there and don’t perform well, that’s on us and maybe they were right. We have people to prove wrong, but we also have people to prove right here in our own community who are rooting for us.”

Thursday’s game will also be Pitt State’s first MIAA conference game under head coach Brian Wright, and their first game in front of a packed stadium since 2019.

“That’s going to be exciting. That’s something that you take for granted I think, if you play football for a long time,” Roy says of playing in front of a full stadium, “The crowd is just there and you feed off that energy, but when it’s not there it’s definitely noticeable. It’s going to be nice to have that back and be able to feed off the crowd and the noise. It’s going to be exciting.”