By Mike Santiago,
UIW Head Football Coach
I thought the most exciting time in Cardinal football history was going to be the inaugural kickoff against Monterrey Tech. I will admit, I was a little teary eyed when we did kickoff. And I was in a full-blown cry when Tech returned the ball 62 yards. At the time, I could not have dreamed that the real excitement would come three hours later when the fans flooded onto the field to celebrate our 42-39 victory.
The night could not have been scripted any better. To see more than 6,200 people cram into a 3,000-seat stadium was an awesome sight. To go toe-to-toe with an opponent that had won 26 straight games and five consecutive Mexican League Championships was an unbelievable feat. But, to see a group of freshmen and redshirt freshmen play as well as they did, as hard as they did, and as inspired as they did in their first college football game, that was the ultimate reward.
Despite that this was our first football game, I have not heard a single complaint from any of the fans about any problems with tickets, seating or parking. All I have heard was what a great time everyone had and that they could not wait for the next home game. Trust me, just like this football team, everything will continue to improve. It is a process.
The UIW-Monterrey Tech football game will always be significant in the long history of UIW. Our players must now learn that they can only celebrate a victory for 24 hours… as we found out the next week against Arkansas Tech. They were not impressed with our first win and proved it by beating us 40-10. The Cardinal players had to go through their next learning experience … life on the road. The nine-hour bus ride, the restaurant food, the noisy hotel, and the hot visitors’ locker room with cold showers were all new experiences. This team will adjust to these challenges as they progress to their senior year.
I want to thank all the fans who were there for the opener and even the ones who weren’t. You all took part in that victory. We could not have done it without you. Trust me, we need you there every week. There really is strength in numbers.