ODESSA, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – The 2023 football season for UTPB has been fruitful under first-year head coach Kris McCullough. McCullough, also the youngest head coach in college football, has led the Falcons through historic feats week in and week out.

For the first time as a program, UTPB accomplished a winning season, earned a national ranking and will play for a conference championship.

The Falcons host Central Washington Saturday in a game that will decide the winner of the Lone Star Conference, meaning if UTPB won, it would be conference champions for the first time ever.

“If you told me we’d be sitting in these shoes when I took the job, I’d tell you you’re crazy,” McCullough said.

He admitted he did not expect the success to come this quickly, but attributes it to the team, both the old and new players, buying into the process and becoming a brotherhood.

One of the key pieces McCullough brought with him from his former head coaching job, East Central University, was quarterback and Wink native Kenny Hrncir. Hrncir is a top-10 quarterback in Division 2 football in both passing yards and touchdowns.

Hrncir spent four years at East Central before returning home to West Texas to play for the Falcons.

“I didn’t think it was going to be as easy as it was. But when everyone wants to win, when you have a common goal and work together… It was a long process, a lot of emotions, but I know I made the right one,” Hrncir said.

On the flip side, there are players like Hayden Kelly who have spent their entire college careers at UTPB and played for the former coaching staff prior to McCullough’s hire.

In Kelly’s time at UTPB (before this season), the Falcons had a record of 19-18. Now, Kelly has been part of the transition into a new era of Falcon football, which is sitting at a 9-1 overall record this season, a program-best.

“It’s been awesome you know it’s a dream come true for a lot of us. The way we came together, the culture that Coach [McCullough] brought with him, it propelled us further than what I could’ve dreamed of to start,” Kelly said.

UTPB looks as if it will already be on its way to the playoffs for the first time in school history, but a conference championship would go a long way toward helping that cause.

No. 17 UTPB hosts No. 23 Central Washington on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Astound Broadband Stadium. Tickets are still available online at UTPB’s athletic website.