Eau Claire (WQOW) -- The UWEC football team kicks off its 2013 season just as it did in 2012, with a non-conference game against St. Thomas (MN).
This time around, though, the Blugolds will be the road team.
Last year, Eau Claire took an eleven-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but the Tommies got a 49-yard touchdown pass from Clear Lake H.S. product Matt O'Connell to close the gap. Then, with just under three minutes left, O'Connell ran one in from 32 yards out.
Needless to say, controlling O'Connell is a big part of the Blugolds defensive game plan.
"He's definitely somebody that we've got to keep under control," says UWEC senior safety Luke Hoyord, "he's very athletic, he's very talented, they've got receivers that are very talented, you know their tailback is very talented, but we as a defense, you know, we've been working hard and we've been watching a lot of film and we truly think that we're ready."
UWEC's quarterback Saturday will also be a local product, as Eau Claire Memorial H.S. grad Mark Munger makes his first collegiate start
"He's a leader, on and off the field," says Blugolds head coach Todd Glaser, "and that's what we want out of our quarterback position, he works tremendously hard, I told you that we feel our team's kind of a lunch box mentality, you know, nothing flashy, I think Mark's like that, he just comes in and works extremely hard in everything he does and that's what excites us about him at quarterback."
UWEC's game at St. Thomas kicks off at 1:10 P.M., Saturday.