Underclassmen hope to send seniors out right

Senior wide receivers Kody Cook (middle) and Stanton Weber (right) run to embrace junior quarterback Joe Hubener following Hubener's 22-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter of the Wildcats' 45-14 beatdown of rival Kansas Jayhawks in the 113th annual Sunflower Showdown on Nov. 28, 2015, in Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kansas. (Parker Robb | The Collegian)

The 2015 K-State football season probably won’t be one you’ll read about in a K-State football memory book sitting on your coffee table. Ten years from now, we probably won’t be looking back through the records reciting detailed statistics or recalling explosive plays. We certainly won’t talk about taking the Big 12 championship like when we talk about 2003 or the No. 1 BCS ranking that happened for a week in 2012.

If we look back on 2015, we will see a six-game losing skid that was finally broken up with a win over Iowa State. A win that came about thanks to a ridiculous amount of perseverance. K-State has hit some highs and lows this season, and the senior class has seen it all.

“I love these guys,” freshman offensive lineman Dalton Risner said. “Sending them out with a win against West Virginia would be so big. Especially after what they battled through this year and stuck to being leaders and stuck to what we do. Hopefully we can make something special happen.”

Eighteen seniors will play their final game in Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Saturday against West Virginia.

“Collectively speaking, I think they’re a group of tremendous young people,” head coach Bill Snyder said. “I think they’re young guys that attempt diligently to live by the value system that we put in place.”

From a football standpoint, Snyder said the seniors have made strong commitments and sacrifices for the good of the program. He said that while the seniors aren’t a vocal group, they understand vocal leadership is necessary and are willing to step in and try to do it even if it puts them out of their comfort zone.

“That’s making a sacrifice for your team and I appreciate that a great deal,” Snyder said.

The Wildcats desperately needed a win against Iowa State, and they were able to get it thanks to several key plays from the senior leadership. Senior defensive back Morgan Burns had a 100-yard kickoff return that kept the Wildcats alive in the first half. As the clock began to run down later in the game, junior quarterback Joe Hubener managed to connect with senior wide receiver Andre Davis for 42 yards, putting the Wildcats in the red zone and in position to tie up the game at 35-all.

It was senior defensive end Marquel Bryant who would force a fumble that was recovered by K-State at the Iowa State 22-yard line with 10 seconds on the clock. Senior place kicker Jack Cantele did not crack under the pressure, connecting from 42 yards to get the win.

Riding off momentum from their last two wins, the underclassmen said they want to make Senior Day special with a win over West Virginia.

“They deserve it,” junior linebacker Will Davis said. “They’ve been through a lot of success here and they’ve been a huge part of that.”

Risner pointed to the impact the seniors have had on his development as a player. He said senior offensive lineman Boston Stiverson has served as a strong mentor and that he admires the way Stiverson battled back from his injuries.

“If that ever happens to me, I’ll always think about how Boston handled that situation,” Risner said.

Hubener gray-shirted when he first came to K-State and spent his first summer with the seniors.

“They were the first people I met on campus, and it means a lot to me to send them out the right way,” Hubener said.

While the 2015 season may not end up in the record books, for the 18 graduating seniors, it will mark the end of a collegiate career.

“They’ve always been close to me and throughout my time here,” Hubener said. “I know this is a special game for them, and we can make it even more special with a win.”