The UMHB Crusaders football team has another huge matchup this week, and it's coming against a very familiar foe.

The Cru will face their longtime rival, the Hardin Simmons Cowboys. I was a member of the UMHB football team from 2010-2014, and know first hand how intense the rivalry is between the Crusaders and Cowboys.

When UMHB played their inaugural football season in 1998, the landscape was much different from today. Hardin Simmons was the cream of the crop of the American Southwest Conference, and everyone looked to them as the leaders of the pack.

The first six years of the rivalry, ranging from 1999-2004, Hardin Simmons was the superior, winning 4 of the 6 matchups. The most notable of those wins had to be Hardin Simmons beating the Cru in Belton during the 2004 Homecoming game 49-22.

That 2004 loss would be a tough lesson for the Cru, and they've never forgotten it. The team would make it all the way to the 2004 Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl (NCAA Division III Championship Game), where they would take a hard-fought loss to the Linfield Wildcats. This would also be a catalyst that caused UMHB to begin shifting into the powerhouse that they are today.

From 2005-2014, the Crusaders dominated winning the annual game 10 years in a row. And the biggest win ever recorded in the series occurred during the 2013 season, when the Cru beat the Cowboys 63-7 in Abilene. After this huge win, I and many of my teammates took a plunge into an outdoor pool near Shelton Stadium.

In 2015, Hardin Simmons upset the number 2 ranked Crusaders, beating them by a score of 29-26. The first round of the NCAA Division III Playoffs would see a rematch of this game, and the Cru would win 37-19. The 2016 contest between these two was an epic battle, but the Cru pulled it out 20-15.

The Cru will make the trip to Abilene Friday to go against the Cowboys in Shelton Stadium. The Cru ranked number one in  the American Football Coaches Association Poll, and also the poll. The Cowboys are coming in ranked number five in both of those same polls.

The game will kick off at 1:00 p.m., and it's sure to be another tough fight. If you are unable to make the trip to Abilene for the game, make sure to tune into the KRock 101.7 broadcast of the game. Pregame show starts at 12:30 p.m., and kickoff is at 1:00 p.m. Go Cru!

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