Mavericks look to control land of the Cougars

When playing at the University of Sioux Falls, the Mavericks remain dominant with an undefeated record of 4-0. This year’s home opener will decide if the team still reigns supreme over USF’s hometurf or if the Cougars can finally retake their land. 

Although the Mavericks have had an impressive run on the road over the years, it’s a new year and neither team has had any opponent yet to test their strengths and weaknesses. An away game in week one may be a hard test for quarterback Hayden Ekern and the 2023-24 Maverick football team. 

“Sioux Falls is a great team but whatever they do, we will be prepared for. Overall we are just excited,” Ekern said. 

The Mavs played an exhibition game where they scrimmaged each other in preparation for the season ahead. In this game, head coach Todd Hoffner said he was looking for the basics of football fundamentals to be executed at a high level. Things such as efficiency, basic logistics of play schemes, not jumping the line before snaps and reducing delay of games were on coaches eyes during the scrimmage. 

“Having the first game on the road is always tough,” Hoffner said. “Hopefully we will learn from today about the game day environment. We are just trying to get a feel for the game, as real as possible.” 

Another important aspect of the scrimmage was utilizing transfers and freshmen. Even though they may be new to Mankato’s schemes, Hoffner says “we want to utilize them, they are all important pieces of the puzzle.” 

Hoffner said some of the highlights of the exhibition match were what the news guys can do. 

“There are a lot of new guys that are making big contributions that we are pleased with,” Hoffner said. “Will King was the quarterback towards the end, he did some nice things. TreShawn Watson the receiver did some nice things as well and then defensively Khai West had an interception.” 

On the field, Hoffner wants to start off fast to put themselves in a position to win football games. Off the field, they have other high priorities. Overall, Hoffner is always looking for good decisions. 

“We understand that it’s the balance of life at the Division II level and family needs to be first,” Hoffner said. “After family it’s academics and then it’s football third.” 

All three of those categories are executed at high levels at MSU. 

The team has created a high sense of chemistry while also finishing last year with a team grade point average of 3.15. This was all done while making it to the second round of the playoffs which earned them the ninth ranked team in the division II coaches poll. The Mavs are also ranked second in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference while the Cougars fell into seventh place in the conference. 

The road game will be a test for the team as it tries to remain undefeated at Bob Young Field. It will set the pace for what’s to come this season for the Mavericks and will be a good outlook of what the team has to prove this year. 

“Obviously our goal is to make it to the big dance and win it,” Ekern said. “But for now we are going to take it day by day and hopefully end up on top.”

Header Photo: Will the Mavs retain their perfect record in Cougar territory? Or will they begin the 2023 season with a loss? The time for preparing is over, the regular season is upon us. (Lilly Anderson/The Reporter)

Write to Luke Jackson at luke.jackson.2@mnsu.edu

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