August 30, 2013
By Kelly McHugh
It's here. It's finally here.
The West Stadium Center is ready for you, Wildcat Nation, and the 2013 K-State Football team is ready too.
At 7:30 p.m. tonight, Bill Snyder Family Stadium will be filled to the brim with purple. The clocks counting down to kickoff will all hit 00:00 and that gameday electricity in the air - the electricity that has already taken over the streets of Manhattan - will come out in full force.
Today - through tailgate celebrations, purple face paint and the Wabash Cannonball - we welcome K-State football back to the gridiron.
The Wildcats are 7-0 in August home openers (you can read more about the history of August K-State Football games here) and are ready to get in front of 50,000 plus passionate purple fans tonight in Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
K-State football opens its 2013 campaign taking on back-to-back NCAA Division I FCS National Champions, the North Dakota State Bison. North Dakota State comes to Manhattan after going 12-0 on the road the past two seasons and have come out victorious its past three season openers at Colorado State (2012), Minnesota (2011) and Kansas (2010).
"North Dakota State is a very good football team," K-State senior captain B.J. Finney said. "They're very fast, they're very physical and they're extremely confident in the way they play, which they should be. It's going to be a true test to see exactly where we're at and to see how far we still have to go and where we want to be, so it's going to be a fun game."
On air with FOX Sports 1 national broadcast is play-by-play man and K-State alum Craig Bolerjack.
Bolerjack began his career in broadcasting as a K-State student working as sports director of K-State's radio station, KSDB. Today, after spending the past thirty years in the business, he said he is honored to have the opportunity to call the first game in the new West Stadium Center.
"To call this game is a dream come true," Bolerjack said. "I did some games on old KSDB FM radio back in the day, and that was in the old press box, my gosh, it was made of plywood and we were afraid it was going to snap and crack."
Bolerjack laughed as he sat in the new Dev Nelson Press Level, reminiscing back to his college days.
Tonight will be the first K-State football game he will not only call, but also attend since he graduated from K-State in 1981.
"It gives me a chance to actually come back to my roots a little bit," Bolerjack said. "When I saw the schedule came out I just about did backflips, that's how excited I was. This place is a special place, there's just a comfort that you feel when you come back and it's great to be a part of this new Dev Nelson Press Level. I knew him very well, and I thought he was one of the premier broadcasters at the time. It's good to be a part of this new start."
From the new faces of K-State's incoming freshmen to the new West Stadium Center, tonight, for many, will be a night of firsts.
For guys like redshirt freshman fullback Glenn Gronkowski and sophomore defensive lineman Travis Britz, tonight will mark their first career starts as Wildcats.
"It means a lot to me," Gronkowski said. "Being under Braden Wilson, it's huge how much he taught me. I think that helped a lot being able to learn under him. When I learned I was a starter, it was just exciting. I've been waiting for this for a long time and working hard for it, so it meant a lot."
Along with the excitement of being named a starter comes higher expectations from those around them.
"It's more responsibility. I'm expected to be a leader now so I have to put in even more effort than I did last year," Britz explained. "Not that I didn't last year, but there are more eyes on me, so I have to really focus on what I'm doing to provide leadership for this defensive line."
Come 7:30 tonight, the anticipation will be over. The preparation for the beginning of the 2013 football season will come to an end, and the boys in purple and white will finally have the chance to show their loyal fans what they have been working towards.
All eyes will be on the field.
Are you ready?