Tom Smart, Deseret News
Ron McBride is in his fourth year of coaching at Weber State. The Wildcats finished fifth in 2007.

It has been 21 years since Weber State won a share of the Big Sky championship. Since 1987, the Wildcats have finished at or within one game of .500 a whopping 14 times.

It's time for Weber State to escape mediocrity and contend for the conference crown.

There is no better time. The Wildcats return 15 starters. They bring back a starting quarterback (Cameron Higgins), starting tailback and fullback (Trevyn Smith and Marcus Mailei) and starting receiver and Football Championship Subdivision all-purpose yards leader (Bryant Eteuati). These are guys who helped the Wildcats score 73 points against Portland State, 52 against Idaho State and 48 against Fort Lewis in the final month of the 2007 season.

That's not to say this team will be carried by its offense. Six defensive starters return on a unit that led the Big Sky in total defense in conference play last season. Linebacker J.D. Folsom and nose guard Bryce Scanlon anchor what should be a unit that's aggressive and strong.

It may be asking a lot of a team that tied for fourth in 2007 and is picked to finish fifth in 2008 to contend for the Big Sky title. But fans have waited long enough for a football winner in Ogden, and coach Ron McBride has put together a team capable of winning the Big Sky crown.

It's time.