Flash Staff Report
STEPHENVILLE (July 5, 2017) — If you’re in the Lone Star Conference, there is no way around having a tough football schedule.
And when you add the likes of Delta State, on the road 530 miles away in Cleveland, Mississippi, no less, you know you’re facing a gauntlet. The powerful Delta of old hasn’t reared its head the last couple years, but the Statesmen, 10-11 over the past two seasons, did go 9-2 in 2014 and in 2011 ventured three rounds into the Division II playoffs with a final record of 11-3.
Tarleton and Delta State are no strangers on the gridiron. Delta won a 38-35 nail biter in Stephenville in 2012, and used a field goal at the buzzer to win 38-36 in Cleveland in 2013.
The home opener for Tarleton is September 9 against Oklhahoma Panhandle State. The Texans begin Lone Star Conference competition on September 16 at Angelo State, kicking off a stretch of six straight LSC games including four on the road.
Homecoming will be celebrated on October 28 with an out-of-conference contest against Western Oregon, then its the top two LSC teams of the past three years in back-to-back weeks to conclude the regular season. Tarleton visits Wichita Falls for a bout with Midwestern State, which finished alone in the second in the LSC in 2015 and 2016 after tying Eastern New Mexico for second in 2014. The Texans are home on November 11 for Military Appreciation Weekend in conjunction with Veterans Day. Across the field will be Texas A&M-Commerce, which has won the past three LSC championships under fifth-year head coach Colby Carthel.
Tarleton was 5-6 in its first season since Todd Whitten returned as head coach in December of 2015. That’s a 1.5-game improvement over their 3-7 mark of 2015, the last of five seasons under head coach Cary Fowler, who is now defensive coordinator at Division I-FCS Eastern Illinois.
Tarleton was at the top of the LSC standings with three weeks remaining last fall, but finished with losses to A&M-Kingsville, Midwestern and A&M-Commerce. They were at home and held late leads against the Javelinas and Mustangs, but couldn’t keep pace after halftime on the road against the Lions.
Whitten won 50 games as head coach at Tarleton in 1996 and again from 2000-04. The winningest coach in the university’s senior-college era and second-winningest in school history, Whitten also led the Texans to their first LSC co-championship and on to the national quarterfinals in 2001. An overtime win at Chadron State (Neb.) that fall is one of just two playoff victories by Tarleton since joining the NCAA and LSC in 1995.
Tarleton was also LSC co-champs in 2009 under Sam McElroy and 2013 under Fowler, but in 22 seasons has never won the conference title outright.