Behold the Glory of the Lone Star conference - a conglomeration of 10 schools that in spite of the name actually come from three states: Texas, New Mexico, and yes, even Oklahoma. This weekend two Lone Star heavyweights who happen to be top 10 in NCAA Division II will square off on ESPN 3, Texas A&M Commerce vs. Midwestern State.
We love to highlight the other schools that play college football in Texas. Schools that don't get the recognition, but still play football at a very high level. The Lone Star is that kind of league and A&M Commerce and Midwestern State are two of those teams. Tune in Saturday night, or heck, show up and you'll be entertained.
Texas A&M Commerce, currently the number four team in Division II, is coached by Colby Carthel, he has the distinction of being the first coach since the great Ernest Hanks to have a winning record at Commerce. Well, when Hanks coached it was known as East Texas State, but you get the idea.
Carthel replaced former Baylor coach Guy Morris and took a team that won 10 games the previous four seasons to unprecedented heights, winning two Lone Star conference titles in his first three seasons. Carthel comes from good stock, his dad Don won four Lone Star titles while at West Texas A&M. Colby was his dad's defensive coordinator at WTAMU. We've pitched Colby Carthel as an up and comer worthy of a look from a bigger school.
At Midwestern State Bill Maskill as been at the helm for 15 seasons. The well traveled Maskill's made stops at Arizona State, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, SMU, and Oregon among others. Maskill's won 115 games at a 72% clip in Wichita Falls, far and away the winningest coach in Midwestern State history. He's won two conference championships and a playoff championship. The Lone Star went to a playoff format in which each team is guaranteed two more games as part of a conference playoff bracket.
Maskill comes from strong stock as well, his father is a Hall of Fame high school coach in Michigan. Maskill's dad, Bill Sr. won 239 games, 18 league titles and four state titles.
As to the game itself, both teams are 4-0. Commerce averages 40.5 points a game while Midwestern scores 37. Commerce gives up 21 points a game compared to Midwestern's 23.
As for who to watch for, Commerce's Richard Cooper out of Angelton averages 107 yards a game and is a dynamic rushing presence for the Lions. Quarterback Luis Perez has thrown for 1,193 yards and 11 touchdowns with just one pick through four games.
Midwestern State boasts a potent rushing attack that averages 210 yards a game and three different rushers have run for 100 yards or more in a game this season. Midwestern State's Quad Coward is a classic dual threat at quarterback for the Mustangs, averaging 222 yards passing and 5.9 yards a rush.
Midwestern State has dominated the series of late, winning five of six. The winner has the inside track to the Lone Star title, but the matter will certainly not be settled. Eastern New Mexico and West Texas A&M will have a say and Tarleton State is always a tough out with Todd Whitten at the helm.
The game kicks off on Saturday night at 7:00 on ESPN3. Tune in for some classic, Lone Star Conference action.