Dialing in on the Wildcats: SEMO football prepares for first game of 2023 season

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KBSI) – The Southeast Missouri State football team will travel to Manhattan, Kan., to take on Kansas State in the first game of the 2023 season on Saturday.

“There’s just a renewed sense of energy and focus and all that because we get to dial in on the Wildcats,” SEMO head coach Tom Matukewicz said.

Matukewicz adds that this energy and focus is nice, but until they put a product on the field during an actual game, they don’t really know who they are as a team. 

“We just need an opponent,” he said. “We need to go put a first effort out there and find out where we’re at. We need to find our truth, like who are we? We’re a bunch of good players, but I mean, after that, we don’t really know.” 

The Redhawks return nine all-conference players from a 2022 team that went 9-3 and won the Ohio Valley Conference. 

One of those all-conference players, running back Geno Hess, is in his final season as a Redhawk. He said he is doing everything he can to soak up his last ride with SEMO. 

“Just kind of taking a deep breath and letting everything settle in on the season that’s coming, and just knowing it’s my last time around, just having fun, the most fun I can have,” he said.

Hess is one of three players to be named to the HERO Sports Preseason All-America Team, and the Redhawks land at No. 11 in the preseason top 25. 

Quarterback Paxton DeLaurent said these expectations and preseason accolades don’t mean anything until they prove it on the field. 

“We haven’t done anything yet,” he said. “You know, what have we done? We’ve practiced hard. We’ve had a good spring. We’ve got a lot of guys who are preseason All-Americans but that doesn’t mean anything until after the season, so I think we’re just ready to go and be able to compete week to week, day-to-day, play-to-play.” 

Kickoff for SEMO’s opening game is scheduled for Saturday Sept. 2 at 6 pm.

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