How long has it been since the Texas Wesleyan Rams fielded a football team? President Donald Trump was still a few years shy of being born. World War II was in its infancy.
And the forward pass was still not the most popular play in the sport. In fact, most teams now throw more in a single quarter than many did in an entire game back then.
Soon, for the first time since 1941, Wesleyan will take the football field Saturday (Sept. 2) at McPherson (Kansas). The Rams will then play their first home game since a 39-0 homecoming win over Trinity way back when as they host Millsaps on Sept. 9.
Home games will be played on the same site as they were 75 years ago, at Farrington Field.
During a recent luncheon to kick off the season, Texas Wesleyan Board President Tim Carter held up a T-shirt with the slogan “Undefeated since 1941” across the front. He then praised head coach Joe Prud’homme on surpassing a goal of 75 recruits by reaching 116.
He also said, “They’ve attracted a very exciting and experienced coaching staff.”
Prud’homme came to Texas Wesleyan after a sterling career at Fort Worth Nolan Catholic that spanned more than two decades. His teams won seven Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools Class 5A state championships between 2004 and 2013, and he was named Private School Coach of the Year in 2008 by the prestigious magazine “Dave Campbell’s Texas Football.”
“I do like challenges. We built a really great program at Nolan, but I was ready for something different,” Prud’homme said.
While it’s hard to tell how a first-year program (after more than seven decades dormant, a program adopts that status) will do, coaches in the Central States Football League do not have them picked last in their inaugural season. They are picked eighth out of nine teams, ahead of Texas College.
“We’ve watched some teams play and we feel like we can match up,” Prud’homme said. “That middle group is pretty open.
“Arizona Christian, first year they were last in the conference and first the next year. I do feel we will compete.”
Arizona Christian is the preseason favorite in the conference this season and are the defending champions.
Prud’homme has been preparing for this moment since he was brought onboard in February of 2016. The Rams’ spring game drew around 2,500 fans and helped with recruiting, drawing almost 30 newcomers.
The Rams’ roster breakdown features:
*Offensive line – 10 freshmen, one sophomore and one junior.
*Quarterback – Four freshmen, one sophomore, one junior.
*Running backs – Five freshmen, four juniors.
*Tight ends – Three freshmen, one junior.
*Wide receivers – Seven freshmen, two juniors, one senior.
*Kickers – Three freshmen.
*Cornerbacks – 10 freshmen, one sophomore, three juniors.
*Defensive ends – Seven freshmen.
*Defensive line – Three freshmen, one sophomore, one junior.
*Linebackers – Eight freshmen, three sophomores, one junior.
*Safeties – Three freshmen.
That’s a young roster, something that inspires Prud’homme to say that within the next five years, “I think we’ll be in the conference championship conversation. I think we’ll be on the map. Big time on the map.”
The Rams will run a pro-style offense and a basic 4-3 defense.
When asked what he would consider a success for his young program’s first season, Prud’homme laughed and said, “National championship.”
Then, he said, “I would say if we’re in every game. We want to make it really hard to play us.”
Texas Wesleyan Rams
2017 football schedule
Home games at Farrington Field
Sept. 2, at McPherson (Kansas), 3 p.m.
Sept. 9, Millsaps College, 2 p.m.
Sept. 16, at New Mexico Highlands (Las Vegas, NM), noon
Sept. 23, SW Assemblies of God, 2 p.m.
Sept. 30, at Langston (Oklahoma), 2 p.m.
Oct. 7, at Texas College (Tyler), 7 p.m.
Oct. 14, Bacone College, 2 p.m.
Oct. 21, at Lyon College (Batesville, Ark.), 2 p.m.
Oct. 28, Wayland Baptist, 2 p.m.
Nov. 4, Arizona Christian, 2 p.m.
Nov. 11, at Oklahoma Panhandle State (Goodwell, Okla.), 2 p.m.
Sept. 9, 911 Tribute to First Responders
Sept. 23, Parent and Family Weekend
Oct. 14, Homecoming
Oct. 28, Educator Appreciation Day
Nov. 4, Salute to military veterans and active duty service members