CMU seniors lead young Mavs in different ways

Matt Mankoff is a four-year starter on the offensive line for Colorado Mesa.

Trevor Stapp has started every game of his career at Colorado Mesa and plays his final home game Saturday at Stocker Stadium.


Western State (1-8, 1-6) at Colorado Mesa (3-6, 3-4)

Saturday, 1 p.m., Stocker Stadium

Radio: 1230-AM (KEXO), 99.9-FM (KEKB)

The Coaches

Western State: Jas Baines, second season, 2-18. Colorado Mesa: Russ Martin, first season, 3-6.

Last Week

■ Western State was limited to two field goals and 231 yards of total offense in a 45-6 loss to Colorado Mines.

■ Colorado Mesa allowed 509 yards of total offense in a 48-10 loss to No. 1-ranked CSU-Pueblo.

Series History

Colorado Mesa leads 20-17 since 1975. The Mavericks have won the past seven meetings.

Players to Watch

Western State

■ RB Germaine Daniels is rushing for 99.6 yards per game.

■ DE Levi Ostrom leads Western with 12.5 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks.

■ FS Cole Waliczek leads Western with 49 tackles.

Colorado Mesa

■ RB Jake Cimolino is averaging 129.2 yards per game.

■ LB Jake Edmiston leads the RMAC with 11.3 tackles per game.

■ KR Trent deBraga leads the RMAC with a 25.9 return average.

Injury Report

Colorado Mesa has eight players who have played this season but won’t play this weekend because of injuries. That includes QB Jason Haferman (knee). OL Matt Mankoff (ankle) and DL Justin Brown (ankle) are probable.

Coach Martin Says

About Western State’s team:

“Defensively, they play really hard. Offensively, they haven’t been as consistent as they’d like to be. They’re kind of banged up. I’m guessing they hope to play steady offense and be opportunistic and hope the defense and special teams keep them in the game.”

About Western State RB Germaine Dainels:

“Germaine is a good one. He is explosive and capable of making big plays. He’s a tough back. He breaks tackles.”

About Western State’s run defense:

“We’ll see a lot of eight- and nine-man fronts. If they show a seven-man front, they’ll probably have both safeties read tough on the run.”

About Colorado Mesa’s plan:

“We want to be able to throw play-action. Because we can run the ball, we should be able to do that. What we don’t want is third-and-longs. That’s an advantage to them. We want to throw it on the choice downs, first, second down or third and short. If we can keep into manageable third downs, and we haven’t had many manageable third downs. We’ve got to play good first and second down.”

Game Notes

■ All military members and their families will be admitted free to game with military identification.

■ CMU will recognize its 11 seniors — LB Koa Asing, DL Dane Amacher, DL Justin Brown, LB Trevor deBraga, DB Trent deBraga, WR Robert Felberg, DL Domonique Lewis, OL Matt Mankoff, K Caleb Pavy, OL Trevor Stapp and RB Thomas Sua — before the game.

■ Western State has the 10th-best rush defense in the nation and the top one in the RMAC, holding opponents to 89 yards per game.

■ CMU is second in the RMAC with 194.2 rushing yards per game.

■ Western State coach Jas Baines was on the Chadron State College staff with CMU offensive coordinator Bill O’Boyle and defensive coordinator Todd Auer for five seasons.

They have different ways of showing it, but Colorado Mesa University seniors Trevor Stapp and Matt Mankoff look after the younger offensive linemen on the Mavericks’ football team.

Stapp will often pick on them, smacking them on the head. Mankoff will often give advice, pointing out something that can help.

“They’ve been around forever,” said redshirt freshman Nick Leonard, who lines up between the veteran center and right tackle. “If I have any questions, I’ve got two people I can ask, two really good players backing me up if I ever mess up.

“If they mess up, they blame it on me. Trevor says if he ever messes up, it’s my fault.”

Mankoff and Stapp will suit up Saturday for the final home game of their college careers. The Mavericks (3-6, 3-4 RMAC) host Western State Colorado University (1-8, 1-6) at 1 p.m. at Stocker Stadium.

The offensive linemen are two of 11 seniors who will be recognized before the game.

“It’s a little bittersweet,” Stapp said.

“I’ve had a long career at Mesa, but it’s coming to an end. Time to start a new chapter in my life,” he added with a dramatic tone and sly smile. “I don’t know what the next chapter is, but it’s starting here shortly.”

“It’s definitely in the back of your mind for sure,” Mankoff said. “It’s kind of crazy to think about because you’ve been doing it so long.”

Mankoff and Stapp are two of four seniors on the offense and have the most starts — 78 combined.

Stapp has started all 41 games the Mavericks have played since his redshirt freshman year.

“I think I’ve been blessed and lucky to stay healthy throughout the years,” Stapp said. “I’ve had little injuries here and there, but nothing too major to stop me, at least.”

Stapp came to Mesa as a defensive lineman, but was moved to offense during his freshman year, which he redshirted. He has played all 41 games at right tackle.

Mankoff began his redshirt freshman year as a backup, but injuries thrust him into the starting lineup by the second game of the season. He started all but three games that season.

“I knew I was going to get some time, but I didn’t know it was going to be like that,” Mankoff said.

He has switched from center to left guard to right guard and is back at center this season.

“If you’re going to play all the positions, you’ve got to know all the positions,” Mankoff said. “It’s been fun, playing some center, some left guard, some right guard. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m down to play whatever, as long as I get to hit somebody.”

Mankoff has been durable, too, missing two games since his redshirt freshman year. He sat out last week against CSU-Pueblo with a sprained ankle, but he likely will play Saturday against Western State.

“Those guys have the most experience,” CMU offensive coordinator and line coach Bill O’Boyle said. “I regret not having them for more years, really. Trevor’s been the leader and done a pretty good job with it. I know it’s tough to do as an offensive lineman. Matt’s done a great job with that as well.”

Mankoff and Stapp have taken the leadership role of the young team seriously, even though they handle it differently.

“Trev does a great job of keeping everyone together as a family,” Mankoff said. “He’ll be the first one to give someone crap, but he’s also the first to help. Everybody looks up to Trev.”

“Matthew is a great leader,” Stapp said. “I think the young guys see that and follow his example.

“Austin (Bennett), Nick and (Brett) Boyer are going to be great.”

“It’s been great playing with Matt the past four years,” Stapp said. “He’s been all over the line. He’s stepped in anywhere the coaches needed him.”


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