KEARNEY, NE — With a program on the rise, the expectations rise with it.

The Nebraska-Kearney football team opens its home slate tonight in what is likely the most hyped season in at least a decade. The Lopers made the second round of the playoffs last year and are ranked 11th in the coaches poll. UNK won 24-7 at Missouri Southern last week, but Head Coach Josh Lynn saw areas that need improvement.

“We need to throw and catch the ball. We ran the ball well. The second thing offensively, we gotta put up some points. We had a couple of missed field goals late in the half,” Head Coach Josh Lynn said. “Defensively, I thought we played a pretty good ball game. If there’s a couple things we need to work on, it’s probably our tackling.”

All-American Safety Darius Swanson says the outside expectations match the expectations inside the program. 

“We expect greatness out of every single player in our program. We need focus from everyone, whether it’s just the little mundane tasks that no-one likes doing all the way to just making your plays on the field. Coaches really stress being locked in and dialed in 24/7.”

The home-opener presents a significant test for the Lopers. Pittsburg State is receiving votes in national polls and is coming off a 21-10 win over Central Missouri.

“Well, I think we’re excited. I think the whole town is excited and that’s fun. This is a big game but they’re all big games. We’re looking to come out here and put our best foot forward for Kearney, Nebraska on Thursday night.”

Kickoff between the Lopers and Gorillas is set for 7:00 p.m.