The injury bug that hit the Fort Hays State Tigers early in the season returned last week to bite the Tigers again.
A handful of players left the Lindenwood game with injuries to varying extents last Saturday, though FHSU coach Chris Brown said he was optimistic those players would be available for Saturday’s 1:30 p.m. game against No. 10 Northwest Missouri State in Marvyille, Mo.
Two of the biggest injury concerns are linebacker Jose Delgado and offensive lineman Toby Godwin. Both left the Lindenwood game, with Delgado nursing an arm injury while Godwin left with a lower-leg injury.
“They’re banged up. We’ve just got to see how this week goes,” Brown said. “Jose should be back, Toby could be back. It’s just about how the rehab goes and getting strength in those areas. For the most part, I think they should be back. I feel pretty good about the progress of them getting back as well.”
Brown said Jacob Mezera will be good to go for the Northwest Missouri game after the senior quarterback sat out most of the second half in the 27-14 win over Lindenwood. Chance Fuller took the snaps for the rest of the game after Mezera appeared to be shaken up on a sack early in the third quarter.
Fort Hays also had to deal with a similar rash of injuries early in the season, with the Tigers losing lineman Pat Kelly, Nathan Hale and receiver Jmari Davis.
Brown said depth continues to be a concern.
“You never have the depth that you really want,” he said. “You just hope that some of those guys step in and get the job done for you. I don’t know if that will ever happen, getting that depth. You start to feel comfortable and all the sudden injuries do occur and hold you back a little bit. If we were healthy right now I’d feel pretty good, but right now we have so many injuries that who knows what’s going to happen.”
FHSU receiver Harley Hazlett said the Tigers must find a way to persevere even if they’re short-handed.
“This point in the season, everybody’s got one team that’s got players banged up,” Hazlett said. “We just kind of have to do it. We know that we got guys down. We’re always short-staffed. We just got to do it. There’s nothing else you can really change about it.”
With a win in Maryville, the 7-2 Tigers can pull even with the Bearcats for first place in the MIAA, while Northwest could clinch at least a share of the title by beating the Tigers.
“If we put everything together offensively, defensively and on special teams, we’ve got a great chance to win this ball game,” Brown said. “I expect us to go in there and compete and win this ball game and hopefully our players expect the same thing.
“But it all comes down to preparation in the film room and on the practice field, understanding this is going to be a very physical game. This is going to be a tough game and you just have to mentally prepare yourself for that. If we can do those things and get ourselves ready, it’s going to be a great game on Saturday.”