McNeese Coach: No joy, no pride with weekend win

Published 3:46 pm Friday, October 27, 2023

A win isn’t always a win.

McNeese State’s first victory of the season left the Cowboys with nothing more than an empty feeling.

There was no joy, no pride in finally getting a victory for the struggling Pokes. Instead just more chaos and confusion in an already strange season.

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Thursday the Cowboys were awarded a win for Saturday night’s Homecoming game scheduled when their opponent Northwestern State canceled the rest of their season.

“It’s not a win really,” said McNeese head coach Gary Goff. “It’s not the way you would have wanted it. It is a shame.”

The Cowboys (1-7) became collateral damage in the shooting that took the life of Northwestern State safety Ronnie Caldwell Jr. in the early hours of Oct. 12 in Natchitoches.

“It is a very sad situation,” Goff said. “Our thoughts and prayers remain with the family.”

The Demon head coach, Brad Laird, resigned on Thursday, as well. The Caldwell family held a news conference in Houston Friday to announce they will be bringing litigation against Laird, Northwestern State, the apartment complex where Caldwell lived and was killed, and any other party or parties they feel helped contribute to their son’s death.

Two people, Caldwell’s roommate and a teammate, have been arrested in connection with the shooting but neither has been charged with the murder yet, according to Natchitoches Police.

Through a spokesperson, the family claims Caldwell told his father, who claimed he then told Laird, that the roommate had threatened Caldwell with a gun and asked to be moved to a new residence three days before the shooting.

The family says Caldwell was never moved. Police say the shooting remains under investigation.

As for the Cowboys, they will try to get back to some type of normalcy in preparation for next week’s game at Southeastern (1-7) after the disappointment of missing their Homecoming game. A lot of their parents are going to be in town.

“We were shocked to find out on a Thursday we are not playing Saturday,” said Goff. “That is the sad thing it is one less home game for us in a season when we were already doing a lot of traveling.”

Goff said his team is down but ready to move on.

“We have been grinding all week to get out there for a home game,” Goff said. “Who knows what struggles they are going through there. We can’t worry about things that are out of our control.”

The Cowboys were hoping to build on a solid first half in their game against No. 4 Incarnate Word last Saturday. They were looking to build on that game moving forward.

“We wanted to go out there and play well,” Goff said. “Excited to get out there this week and finish the deal. Our focus now has to be Southeastern.”

With the third youngest team in FCS, McNeese was looking to use the final four games of the season to give their players even more experience as they try to rebuild the program. That included a long look at true freshman quarterback Kamden Sixkiller.

Had Goff known a week earlier of the cancellation then he could have played Sixkiller some against Incarnate Word.

As for the Northwestern State football program, that appears to be in limbo now as they await the expected lawsuit and search for a new head coach.

That’s not how the Cowboys wanted to taste victory this season.