It isn't exactly Utah-BYU, but players from Weber State and Dixie State are excited to participate in an in-state game of their own tonight.
The Wildcats and Dixie State will meet for the first time in football in Weber State's homecoming game at Elizabeth Dee Shaw Stewart Stadium at 6 p.m. It is the only in-state game for Dixie State this season, while the Wildcats will play in a much more anticipated game against Utah in two weeks.
"It's not like the Utah game because there will be a lot going on there with coach Mac and everything," said Weber State receiver Bryant Eteuati. "But it's a game we're looking forward to, and it does mean a lot."
Technically, the two football programs have never been on the same level and they still aren't. Dixie State was a junior college until moving up to Division II in 2006. Dixie State, currently without a nickname, went through some growing pains when it moved up, but it seems to be on the right track.
The credit for the progress goes to coach Ron Haun, the longtime Ricks coach who spent one season as Ron McBride's offensive coordinator at Weber State. Haun has just a 5-19 record at Dixie State, but the team nearly beat a top 10 Division II team in Central Washington in its opener and rolled past Western New Mexico last week.
"I'm glad he's (Haun) doing OK," McBride said. "Things are going a lot better than they were a year ago. The program is going in the right direction."
Despite the progress, Haun knows Dixie State is in for a big challenge tonight.
"I'd like to be comparing apples to apples, but it's a big step up for us," Haun said. "There's a big difference between Division I (Football Championship Subdivision) and Division II. It will be a tall order playing Weber State."
The Wildcats know they can't take Dixie State lightly, and they were an example of why last week. Weber State jumped out to a 10-point lead against Hawaii before losing 36-17. Teams may be on different levels, but the larger schools still have to show up and execute if they want to win in these games.
Players such as Dixie State quarterback Preston Hill, a graduate of Highland High in Idaho, and former Pleasant Grove linebacker Teddy Owens have the attention of the Wildcats. Hill has thrown for 539 yards and four touchdowns in two games. Owens has 17 tackles, 10 of which were unassisted, in two games."They're an OK team," said Weber State receiver Tim Toone. "If we play like we should, there's no doubt we're going to win. We just got to execute."
Weber State on the air
Dixie State (1-1) at Weber State (1-1)
Today, 6 p.m.
TV: NoneRadio: 1430 AM