WSU Athletics: Spring semester state of affairs

Basketball game against Utah Tech, taken on Dec. 5, 2022. Keith Dinwiddie attempting a layup.

A lot has happened on campus since the end of fall semester. When students left for winter break on Dec. 16, Weber State University’s football team was lacking a head coach, the men’s basketball team had a 5–7 record (4–7 excluding the exhibition game against Adams State) and the women’s basketball team was getting ready for their last two games before in-conference play.

Here’s a review of the state of affairs at the beginning of the semester.

Ground breaking changes for football (some literally)

On Dec. 20, the Wildcats’ athletic director Tim Crompton announced that Mickey Mental had been named the team’s new head coach.

Mental joined Weber State on Feb. 11, 2021, as an offensive coordinator. Formerly a head coach for Notre Dame College, Mental played a vital role in the Wildcats’ 10–3 season.

Shortly after the team’s season-ending loss against Montana State University, Weber State’s former head coach Jay Hill announced he’d taken a defensive coordinator position at Brigham Young University. Mental was named the interim head coach during the transition.

“We’re excited to obviously get back to work and obviously compete for championships,” Mental said at a press conference. “If you can win the Big Sky, you’ve got a shot.”

After replacing Hill, who’d been with Weber State for 9 seasons, Mental became the program’s 12th head coach.

The changes with the football team were not limited to the head coach. After finishing with 2,529 yards and 21 touchdowns last season, Wildcat quarterback Bronson Barron entered the transfer portal on Dec. 13. Backup quarterback Kylan Weisser had entered the portal 6 days earlier on Dec. 7.

Over the break, Barron signed with Eastern Kentucky University. Weisser, on the other hand, announced on Jan. 3 that he’d be staying with Weber State.

“I’m coming home!” Weisser said in a tweet. “Thank you to everyone who gave me the opportunity to play ball but I am very happy to say I am recommitting to Weber State and withdrawing my name from the portal.”

On Dec. 15, junior cornerback Eddie Heckard also announced he’d be leaving the team. Initially, Heckard declared for the NFL draft. On Dec. 21 however, Twitter user @farrellportal tweeted that Heckard had entered the transfer portal. Last season, Heckard recorded 214 tackles and 7 interceptions.

Outside of player news, Weber State Athletics published a tweet announcing the start of construction at Stewart Stadium. Posted with demolition pictures, it was announced that the stadium will get a new track, a new field and new east stands.

Men’s basketball turns things around

After winning two games before the end of fall semester, Weber State beat Utah State University 75–72 on Dec. 19 in Logan, Utah.

Seen as underdogs against the then-undefeated Aggies, the Wildcats won their first game against Utah State since Nov. 10, 2017.

“We’ve been doing everything we’ve been doing since the beginning of the season. It just finally came together,” Weber State forward Dillon Jones said after the game. “It just takes time. People have been giving us a lot of crap and stuff about the team we were and it was messed up. We’re just a good team.”

After the semester ended, the Wildcats played BYU on Dec. 22, losing 63–57 and ending their three-game win streak. Weber State returned to the Dee Events Center on Dec. 29 to play the University of Northern Colorado for their first Big Sky Conference game of the season.

Led by a double-double performance from Jones of 26 points and 13 rebounds, the Wildcats beat the Bears 81–72.

Beating Northern Arizona 76–60 on Dec. 31 at home, Jones nearly had another double-double with 15 rebounds and 9 points. His performances from the two games earned him Big Sky player of the week as well as’s Mid-Major National Player of the Week.

Weber State had their first in-conference loss on Jan. 7, falling to Idaho State University 67–57. Despite leading after the first half, Bengals’ guard Miguel Tomley, center Brayden Parker and forward Jay Nagle combined for 28 points in the second half to lead Idaho State to victory.

Despite the loss, Jones still earned a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Guard Steven Verplancken scored 12 points and forward Junior Ballard scored 13 before the final buzzer.

Weber State will head to Missoula, Montana to take on the University of Montana at 7 p.m.

Trying to break the losing streak

Playing at the end of fall semester, the Wildcats’ women’s basketball team started their break with a close 69–65 loss to Utah Tech University on Dec. 17.

Facing the No. 8 team in the NCAA, according to The Associated Press’ rankings, Weber State suffered a 36-point loss to the University of Utah on Dec. 20.

“I think the biggest thing for us is finding players that can come off the bench and contribute in multiple ways,” Wildcat head coach Velaida Harris said after playing the Utes. “That’s literally what we’ve been talking about. We just had a long conversation in there about that. Individually, what is it that we can do?”

Starting in-conference play on the road, Weber State is currently 0–3 in the Big Sky. Wildcat forward Daryn Hickok currently leads the team in scoring, averaging the third most points in the conference with 17.4. Forward Jadyn Matthews averages the 5th most rebounds in the conference with 8.3.

Coming back to the Dee Events Center for the first time since playing Utah, Weber State will look to end their seven-game loss streak against the Grizzlies on Jan. 12 at 6 p.m.