If you've been a regular reader of Denison's weekly football previews you should know by now that themes play a big role. Last year's Southwestern game was presented by Game of Thrones. We have even worked in one of our favorites, Bruce Springsteen. Today's theme is an obvious one. Country music artists love to write songs about Texas so our titles to this week's game note package will feature some of our favorite songs about the Lone Star State. The song title might not have anything to do with the actual game note, but if it makes you go to Spotify or YouTube and listen to some George Strait, we have done our job. Here we go…
I Can't See Texas From Here (Artist: George Strait): Denison will open the 2018 season this Saturday, Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. central (8 p.m. EDT) in Georgetown, Texas when the Big Red takes on Southwestern University. This will mark the end of a home-and-home series against Southwestern to open the season. Last year, the Big Red defeated the Pirates 49-31 to open the season at Piper Stadium. Southwestern University will provide a live video broadcast of the game available at www.shnsports.com/football. Live Stats will also be available through DenisonBigRed.com.
If You're Gonna Play in Texas (Artist: Alabama): This Alabama classic is a fitting opener to our week one notebook. So much planning goes into a football game that involves airline travel. Imagine purchasing roughly 80 plane tickets, arranging for food, lodging, and entertainment. Don't forget that getting equipment and athletic training supplies to a destination that is 1,250 miles away brings its own set of challenges.
Round Here Buzz (Artist: Eric Church): We're not even sure if this is about Texas but the video is so good it had to be included. It has that Friday Night Lights feel to it. This is a Saturday Night Lights situation and the game will be played at the Georgetown ISD Stadium which opened in 2008. It seats 12,442 spectators and is the home of Georgetown High School, East View High School, and Southwestern University.
Back to Texas (Artist: Kacey Musgraves): Taking flights to games isn't a common practice at Denison. With only one league game and the costs that accompany such a trip, this is a special circumstance. However, this is the second time the Big Red will take a snap in the Lone Star State. On Nov. 2, 1985, the Big Red defeated Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, 21-7, en route to a 10-0 season. This year's DU team is hoping some of that 1985 magic will rub off.
Texas Tornado (Artist: Tracy Lawrence): Denison head football coach Jack Hatem returns for his ninth season leading the Big Red. He boasts a career record of 48-32 (.600) and has gone 22-8 over the last three seasons. Denison is 6-2 in season-openers under Hatem.
Austin (Artist: Blake Shelton): Southwestern is led by head coach Joe Austin who is in his sixth year leading the Pirates. He has gone 16-34 since the football program was re-instated at Southwestern in 2013. Prior to coming to Southwestern, Austin was the head coach at Hanover College in Indiana. Denison assistant coach Rory Mannering played for Austin at Hanover.
What I like about Texas (Artist: Gary P. Nunn): There is a lot to like about Denison senior quarterback Canaan Gebele. He returns for his third full season as a starter and is coming off a season that saw him pass for 2,016 yards and 15 touchdowns while rushing for 791 yards. Gebele ranks third in career passing yards and 16th in career rushing yards at Denison. He needs 791 passing yards to pass Max Paulus '13 as the program's all-time leader (6,545 yards).
Luckenbach, Texas (Artist: Waylon Jennings): Looking back to last year's Southwestern game, the final score (49-31) does not tell the entire story. Denison trailed 14-0 after the first quarter and was down 24-21 midway through the third quarter. Four-straight touchdowns by the Big Red over a 15-minute span in the third and fourth quarters blew the game wide open. Gebele finished the night with four rushing touchdowns and 146 yards on the ground. His four rushing touchdowns tied a Denison single-game record.
Amarillo By Morning (Artist: George Strait): Denison returns all five starters on the offensive line and 10 starters, overall. Alex Minton became the 15th player in program history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season. He finished with 1,001 yards on only 156 carries, marking the fewest carries in program history to reach this milestone.
God Blessed Texas (Artist: Little Texas): Senior wide receiver David Weimar returns to the lineup after missing the final five games of last season to an injury. He caught 69 passes for 963 yards as a sophomore in 2016. Weimar ranks ninth in career receiving yards entering his senior season with 1,488 yards.
The Yellow Rose of Texas (Artist: Elvis Presley): Senior free safety Ryan Zinkula is coming off his second-straight all-conference season at safety. He has totaled 132 tackles over the last two seasons. He is a co-captain on this year's team along with Canaan Gebele, David Weimar, and George Carson.
Dallas (Artist: Alan Jackson): Sophomore linebacker Dallas Griffiths has moved into a starting role after playing on a part-time basis as a first-year. The Coshocton, Ohio native finished sixth on the team in tackles last season with 39.
Amarillo Sky (Artist: Jason Aldean): Senior return specialist and wide receiver David Carter is back in the fold. He missed the final eight games of the 2017 season with an injury. A standout in track and field, Carter is an All-American triple jumper and a three-time conference champion in track and field.
El Paso (Artist: Marty Robbins): The growth under head coach Jack Hatem can't be overstated enough. When he took over in 2010, Denison had a roster size of 77 players. That number has consistently grown over the last years to a program-high 118 players this season.
Beautiful Texas (Willie Nelson): Southwestern is coming off a 6-4 campaign in 2017 which saw then-senior defensive back Nik Kelly earn D3football.com All-America status. He was a two-time SCAC Player of the Year. Quarterback Frederick Hover returns after rushing for 1,100 yards and passing for 1,865. He threw 16 touchdown passes and rushed for another 14. Landry Bray led the team in receiving with 535 yards and four touchdowns.