A few years ago, a 4-2 record after six games would have sounded pretty appealing to the Fort Hays State football team.
It speaks to the new expectation level of the program that the record is now considered a disappointment.
“Four and two three years ago in this program would have been great,” FHSU coach Chris Brown said. “But four and two right now, with our expectation, is not where we need to be at. It’s just guys buying into what we’re doing and making sure they’re doing the things necessary to make this team successful.”
The Tigers dropped to the 4-2 mark after a 28-24 loss to Emporia State this past Saturday in which FHSU suffered from four turnovers and couldn't protect a 10-point second-half lead.
“I hope everyone’s a little disappointed and frustrated in themselves; I’d by lying if I said I wasn’t,” Mezera said. “That bus trip home (from Emporia) was the longest trip even though it was probably the shortest one so far.
“I hope everyone looks in the mirror and really sees what they want to do for the team and what they have left.”
Even after two the losses, the Tigers’ goal of winning back-to-back MIAA titles isn’t yet out of reach. With FHSU sitting a game back of Northwest Missouri and Pittsburg State, a 5-0 finish to the regular season would guarantee at least a share of the MIAA title and likely earn a playoff appearance.
The run would need to start for the Tigers on Saturday in a 2 p.m. matchup against No. 18 Pittsburg State at Lewis Field Stadium.
“How many more opportunities do we need to not blow it?” Mezera said. “We’ve had our destiny in our hands the whole year so far and we’ve let it slip from us twice, and now we have another (opportunity).
“Pitt’s a great team. We’ve got to a find way to get into the end zone again.”
Inefficiency in the red zone has been the area that’s held the Tigers back most in the road losses to Missouri Western and Emporia State. FHSU turned the ball over twice inside the 10-yard line against Emporia State.
“It is frustrating not to get it into the end zone,” Brown said. “We’ve been there, we’ve kicked a lot of field goals and haven’t been able to execute and have turned the ball over in the red zone. Those cost us points and those cost us the game. We’ve got to lock in a little bit more and make the plays or not make the stupid mistakes that cost us points.”
Pitt State is coming off a 31-7 loss at home to Northwest Missouri that put the Gorillas and Bearcats in a tie for first place at 5-1 in the league.
“I don’t think the motivation has changed at all,” FHSU defensive lineman Wyatt Parker said. “With Northwest beating Pitt, that really opened up the conference. It’s really anybody’s conference right now.
“From now on out, I was telling the guys, literally every game is the conference championship, because we can’t afford to lose another one. That has to be our mentality throughout the next five games.
“There’s still a lot to play for and still a lot to get done, and hopefully we get those things done this week,” Brown added.