Mavericks set for NCAA Tournament matchup against Thunderwolves

Mavericks set for NCAA Tournament matchup against Thunderwolves

MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — The Minnesota State Mavericks Football team will be back at Blakeslee Stadium Saturday for the start of postseason play.

The Mavericks are playing host to Colorado State University-Pueblo.

This won’t be the first time MSU has gone head-to-head with the Thunderwolves, just last year the Mavs topped them in the NCAA Tournament by a score of 24–10.

“As a matter of fact, we’ve played this team more over the last six years than we’ve played the teams in the North Division of the NSIC. So, four out of six seasons we’ve had an opportunity to play CSU–Pueblo, phenomenal football program, great players, great coaches, they do a lot of things really well,” Todd Hoffner, MSU head coach, said.

Although the Mavs have topped CSU-Pueblo the last two consecutive years they have the mindset of a clean slate going into Saturday’s contest.

“It’s a different team. We don’t want to get caught up in, you know, we already beat them multiple years in the past. It’s a new team, it’s a new year, things could go both ways,” Nate Gunn, MSU senior running back, said.

“I think we’re really just focused on trying to play our best, knowing that it’s going to be a very physical game regardless because every time they come up here it’s a very physical game. So that’s what we’re prepared for and we’re ready to bring the heat,” JD Ekowa, MSU junior quarterback, said.

The Mavericks are no stranger to hosting during playoff time and it is a factor they are grateful for.

“It’s a blessing. It’s very helpful to get the support from the community and to get support from everybody else and having home-field advantage is something that some people take for granted, but it’s something that we pride ourselves here, especially during the playoffs,” Ekowa said.

“You have to understand how rare this is, to have a home playoff football game. Our fans have come accustomed to playing at home. We’ve done a really good job during the regular season. To have great football programs come to Minnesota State and play football at Blakeslee Stadium is something that people should come out and cherish and watch and support the local team because we’re definitely going to need that come tomorrow,” Hoffner said.

As far as having overall success in tomorrow’s matchup, the team has an idea of what needs to be done on the field.

“I think you have to take care of the football. I think that’s the number one thing. Field position is going to be really important. Doing well in the red zone, whether that’s stopping them or scoring points, for us. I think those three things are going to be, really, key factors in the outcome of the football game,” Hoffner said.

“We just have to play as a team, we can’t come in with the mindset, like we said before, that we already beat them in the past. That stuff does not matter right now. It’s the second round of 2019 and both teams are in the playoffs right now. So I just think that we’ve got to go out there and play Mankato Maverick football and I think we’ll be all right,” Gunn said.

Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.

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