While five teams in the MIAA got things started Thursday, the remainder of the league will kick off the 2009 season on Saturday.

While five teams in the MIAA got things started Thursday, the remainder of the league will kick off the 2009 season on Saturday.
Besides Pittsburg State’s home opener at 7 p.m. Saturday against Central Oklahoma, Fort Hays State hits the road to open the season at Western (Colo.) State Saturday at 2 p.m. The Tigers defeated Western State in the last meeting between the two teams, 55-3, in 2007.
Head Coach Kevin Verdugo and Fort Hays State return six starters on both offense and defense from a year ago. The 2008 Tigers finished 10th in the conference after going 2-9 overall, 1-8 in the MIAA.
Missouri Southern starts with a road contest against Harding (Ark.) Saturday at 6 p.m.
The Lions defeated Harding 45-31 last season in Joplin, Mo., and lead the all-time series 3-2. Seven offensive starters and nine starters on defense return in 2009 for Missouri Southern and head coach Bart Tatum.
The Lions placed eighth in the MIAA in 2008 after going 4-7 overall, 2-7 in conference play.
Truman faces off with No. 17 Minnesota State-Mankato right out of the gate Saturday at 7 p.m. The Bulldogs and Mavericks are 2-2 all-time against each other.
This is the third trip to Kirksville, Mo., by Minnesota State and first since 1993. Both schools are 1-1 on the road. Truman and new head coach Aaron Vlcko return seven starters on offense and three on defense from 2008. The 2008 team went 4-7 (3-6 MIAA) and finished seventh in the conference.
Washburn travels to Golden, Colo., to take on the Colorado School of Mines Saturday at 1 p.m. It will be the fifth time in the last six seasons that the two teams have played to begin the season.
The Ichabods have won the last four meetings, including a 27-3 triumph last season. Head coach Craig Schurig and Washburn bring back 10 offensive starters and eight starters on the defensive side of the ball after going 6-5 overall (4-5 MIAA) in 2008 and finishing sixth in the conference.