Fresno State football clinches West Division, prepares emotionally for senior night

Kickoff from Valley Children's Stadium is set for 7:00 p.m. with the game broadcast on FS1.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2022
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Friday night is senior night at Fresno State. The Bulldogs are expected to honor at least 12 players who have exhausted their eligibility

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Last Saturday in Reno, Fresno State won its sixth straight game and clinched a West Division title, meaning a rematch on the blue turf of Boise State in the Mountain West championship game.

It's familiar territory for Bulldog head coach Jeff Tedford.

"We've played Boise enough to kind of know who they are, but that's a week from now," Tedford said. "That's not this week. Our focus is 100 percent on Wyoming."

As for those Cowboys, they are 7-4 on the season and just lost 20-17 to Boise State after an interception in the end zone in the final minute.

But prior to kick-off Friday, there will be a Senior Day celebration. The Bulldogs are expected to honor at least 12 players who have exhausted their eligibility. It could be more, should players like Jalen Moreno-Cropper declare for the NFL draft.

Regardless, with the West Division clinched, it's set to be an emotional night for those taking the ramp for the last time.

"Any time it's your last time coming down that ramp and going up that ramp, as many times as these guys practice down there and have done that, to know this is their last opportunity in this stadium to compete, it's a pretty big deal," Tedford said.

Headlining this class is quarterback Jake Haener.

"He told me and said, 'Next Friday, I'm going to be a mess,'" Tedford said. "I said 'Don't worry, so will I.'"

"Yeah, this whole week's going to be filled with a lot of emotion just because this place means a lot to me and my teammates mean a lot to me. Going in here one more time, I want to emphasize getting a win," Haener said. "When I was still at Washington, just kind of watching seniors come out and just being like, 'Wow, I'm so far away from that. Like, not even going to happen anytime soon.' The years fly by and now, I'm going to be the one walking down, so yeah it's emotional. It is."

After four total touchdowns, Haener was named Offensive Player of the Week in the Mountain West. His 361 passing yards moved him past Mark Barsotti for fourth all-time at Fresno State.

"When people remember quarterbacks, they remember conference championships and not a bunch of stats," Haener said.

Haener knows that challenge awaits in December. However, the message he's been preaching all season has been about staying present.

"Just going to enjoy it, man, because it's going to come fast, go fast and the whole process has been a blessing to me and my family," he said.

Kickoff from Valley Children's Stadium is set for 7:00 p.m. with the game broadcast on FS1.