Parents, Players Prepare for SHSU's First National Championship Game

By: Michael Oder Email
By: Michael Oder Email

Bearkats shoot for all the marbles on Saturday.

Sam Houston State University is gearing up for its national championship game this Saturday in the Dallas suburb of Frisco.

When they started the football season, no one had any idea they would wind up playing for the championship. In two days they take on the Bison of North Dakota State in their very first title game.

The excitement surrounding this team's undefeated season is high. No one, with the exception of head coach Willie Fritz, feels that pressure more than the players and their families.

14 wins. Zero losses. The Sam Houston State Bearkats are rolling into the championship game with momentum and fans.

Fans like Brian and Linda Smith.

"Lighting the statue orange," exclaims Linda, "oh my!"

The Smith's show their Bearkat pride in many ways. They've also got some pretty big ties to the school.

Brian played for Sam back in the 70s. Now, his son Riley plays for the team too. The 6'3", 200 pound offensive lineman is a product of Huntsville.

He was a two-time all district player at Huntsville High under Coach Mitchell Coey.

When Riley and his teammates take the field, the last thing on their mind is the win-loss column.

"This week, game 15, clearly, they're 14-0 they're trying to be 15-0, but every week it's been a matter of we just want to be 1-0," says Brian.

"Sam Houston, and the community itself really, is ready for a little championship football."

The success of this Bearkat team is bringing the players closer together.

"It was a different feel for, and among, those kids and I don't know that they can define it," says Brian.

It's also bringing alumni together too. Brian gets messages from other former players and graduates regularly.

Brian shares an email he got from another Sam Houston graduate.

"He says "'Brian, please tell Riley the euphoria that he and his teammates have created for me and so many other Sam grads.' His use of the word euphoria is pretty cool," says Brian.

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