Missouri Western celebrates after blocking a field goal against Central Oklahoma in 2019 at Wantland Stadium in Edmond, Oklahoma.

Missouri Western (0-0) at Central Oklahoma (0-0)

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Where: Wantland Stadium — Edmond, Oklahoma

Broadcast: TV — MIAA Network; Radio — KFEQ 680 AM, 95.3 FM

When WESTERN has the ball

Many of the names will be new to Griffons fans in 2021. Quarterback Anthony Vespo played five games in relief and started one as a redshirt freshman in 2019. He completed 65% of passes for 411 yards and 3 touchdowns. Though he will start, freshman Reagan Jones will play and provide a dual-threat ability. The top 3 running backs are all freshmen in Jonas Bennett, Brandon Hall and Shein Butler-Lawson. Cooper Burton is the top returning wideout with 17 catches for 277 yards and three touchdowns and is slated to start with freshman Hezekiah Trotter and Traveon James. Devon Holmes is not listed as a starter after going for 49 catches, 668 yards and four scores in ‘19. Tight end Cam Grandy is back alongside five new starts on the O-line. UCO has lots of turnover from starters on defense. Joseph Roque has played in 22 games at defensive tackle, while Derrick Shaw played every game in 2019. Daniel Baughman has played 22 games at cornerback, while Dylan Buchheit played 10 games in 2019. No other return has a full season of experience. Derek Loccident, a contributor in 2017 and ‘18, will make his return after losing his lower left in a 2018 train accident and move to linebacker.

Advantage: WESTERN

When UCO has the ball

Central Oklahoma has 2 quarterbacks who could play. Dual-threat lefty Keats Calhoon was named the starter in 2018 and ‘19 but has played just seven games combined due to injuries. He’s appeared in 10 games entering his sixth year in the program. Stephon Brown is a 6-foot-5 transfer after not playing at TCU in 2020. UCO’s top returning wideouts combine for just 26 catches, 375 yards and three scores in 2019, though they welcome in three 6-3 freshmen against transfer Markiese King, a popular figure on ‘Last Chance U’ and Independence CC. They return three offensive linemen and will replace their leading RBs. The Griffons return two All-MIAA defensive ends in Arnold Crayton and C.J. Ravenell, and boast two inside returners with Tylen Wallace and Chris Blakeney. The Griffons will primarily run two linebackers, led by Evan Chohon. Kobe Cummings and Payton Murray will patrol at safety with Devan Burrell in the nickel. Sam Webb returns after an All-Region campaign at cornerback starting opposite of D.J. Sturgis. When the Griffons get a stop, UCO will have to contemplate punting to All-American Trey Vaval.

Advantage: WESTERN


Missouri Western 50, Central Oklahoma 43 — The Griffons led by 19 with 9 minutes left before a near collapse, allowing three-straight UCO touchdown drives.


2018 — UCO 17, Western 16

2017 — Western 41, UCO 37

2016 — UCO 31, Western 21

2015 — Western 26, UCO 16


This is Missouri Western’s first game in 635 days dating back to the 2019 Live United Bowl. … The Griffons are winless in Week 1 (0-3) under Matt Williamson. … Western has won 11-straight games away from Spratt Stadium.

Brandon Zenner can be reached at brandon.zenner@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NPNowZenner.

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