BELTON, Texas — The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football team will kick off the 2019 season when the Cru plays host to Albright College Saturday night at 6 p.m. at Crusader Stadium. 

The game will also be the only non-conference contest of the season before the defending national champions play nine consecutive American Southwest Conference games.  

The Cru will be playing for the first time since topping Mount Union 24-16 in Stagg Bowl XLVI last December. The win gave the program its second national title in the last three seasons. 

UMHB returns 39 letter winners from that championship team, but a rash of injuries during camp means the team will have a new look-- especially on offense-- when it takes the field Saturday.

Quarterback Jase Hammack is out with an injury, so Ryan Redding is expected to get his first varsity start at that position. 

Injuries at wide receiver and running back mean no player who caught a varsity pass last season or had a varsity carry at running will be taking the field Saturday. 

That could mean the Cru will rely on its defense and special teams in the early going with seven starters back on that side of the ball. 

Expectations are high going into the season, and the excitement should be too with UMHB finally getting the chance to hit the field again.

“Albright already has a game under their belt and should be hungry after the way last year’s game went,” UMHB Head Coach Pete Fredenburg said. “We have so much work to do and some many areas where we need to improve. Building a team is a process each year and I keep reminding our coaches and players of that. We have some talented players, but so many of them are stepping into new roles. We have to focus on us and what we can do to improve our football team when we step out on that field.”

The Lions are 0-1 on the season after falling to Salisbury 63-28 last Friday. 

Saturday will mark the  Albright's first time playing in Belton.

The Cru leads the all-time series between the two teams 1-0 after beating the Lions 91-7 in the opening game of the 2018 season.

UMHB comes into the game ranked No. 1 in the country by

Cru fans can expect festivities honoring the Cru’s 2018 National Championship at Saturday's game. 

Free t-shirts will be given to the first 4,000 fans through the gates and people wearing a purple shirt can receive a free general admission ticket. 

There will be an unveiling of a national championship marker during pre-game ceremonies, and fans will be treated to a post-game fireworks show. 

Parking, traffic flow and game day events information is available online.

Albright College fans are encouraged to enter the stadium through ticket window three at the southeast corner of Crusader Stadium. 

Saturday’s game will also be broadcast live on Fox Sports Radio (93.9 FM/1330 AM) and through the station’s web site, which will start with the pre-game show at 5:30 p.m.