Clinton Dick/Collegian photographer. Cory Holbert, junior running back, stiff arms Josh Plummer, junior linebacker, as he runs with the ball during the Purple and White football scrimmage Saturday. The Builder coaching staff had three strings of players play throughout the scrimmage.

Ken Crandall has never had a Southwestern football team as large in numbers as this year’s since he took over the head coaching position in 2007. The football coach says that this is one of the largest teams Southwestern has had in approximately 20 years.

“We have 43 new guys on the roster,” said Crandall. “Our total out for football this year is 90.”

The football coaching staff worked hard during the school year and during the summer on recruiting players for the team.

“We did a good job recruiting,” said Crandall. “The players we targeted were guys who can not only make plays on the field, but be great student-athletes as well.”

Not only did the Builders get a good number of recruits, but the team has had a chance to bond over the few weeks they have been practicing. Chris Cole, junior inside linebacker, said that the team has gelled together more than it has been in the past.

“We have upperclassmen guys who help out the freshman,” said Cole. “The fact that we have the leadership and the experience on our side this year is exciting.”

Crandall agrees that the thing that excites him most about the upcoming season is how the team has come together.

“We have great team unity,” said Crandall. “We have really bonded together the past few weeks and we have playmakers on both sides of the ball.”

Last year, the Builders went 3-7 overall and 3-6 in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference. Their record was only good enough to land them eighth in the KCAC out of 10 schools, but it was an improvement from the ’08-’09 season when Southwestern won just one game and finished last in the KCAC. The preseason polls, which were released Aug. 9, have the Builders ranked seventh in the KCAC in the Media Poll and eighth in the Coaches Poll.

“Over the past few years we haven’t done anything to have us ranked any higher,” said Jordan Barrett, sophomore quarterback. “Hopefully we will surprise some people and we plan to do better this year.”

Builder football fans got a first glimpse of this year’s team Saturday afternoon as the football team held its annual Purple and White Scrimmage on the brand new Richard L. Jantz Stadium. The first, second and third string players all saw action.

“I think from what we saw we still have to smooth things out,” said Crandall. “Our secondary played pretty good, but we had some long ball breakdowns.”

The Builders will have until Sept. 4 to work any kinks out as they open up their season at home against the Oklahoma Panhandle State University Aggies at 7 p.m. Last year, the Builders suffered a 35-14 loss to OPSU in Guymon, Okla.

Cole says that it will be interesting to see how things play out considering OPSU is not a conference opponent.

“We know they are going to be a smash-mouth football team,” said Cole. “It will be a good test for us when we open up on the new stadium.”

Clint Dick is a sophomore majoring in convergent journalism. You may e-mail him at clinton.dick@sckans.edu.