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SBU running back Bryce Cabrera enters the end zone, arms outstretched, during the first quarter of the Bearcats’ 2019 homecoming game against Quincy University. 

Bearcat football is back in Bolivar. 

Southwest Baptist University football will compete for the first time since fall 2019. 

The Bearcats are scheduled for a three-game season, followed by a conference playoff game, starting Thursday, April 1. 

Kickoff against Truman State University is 5 p.m. at Plaster Stadium in Bolivar. 

SBU finished its 2019 campaign 3-8, ending the year on a five-game slide. 

Truman State University beat SBU 52-7 that year. 

SBU, though, may be a different team two years later. 

The Bearcats feature a number of Bolivar High School graduates, as well as several transfers that could elevate the program. 

BHS graduates Eathen Dinwiddie and Garred Engle feature on SBU’s roster. 

The program will also introduce junior Cooper Callis, a 210-pound 6’3” transfer from Fullerton College, likely set to compete for a starting job as quarterback. 

After facing Truman State, SBU will play Missouri S&T on Saturday, April 10, and William Jewell College on Saturday, April 17. 

The team’s playoff game is scheduled for Saturday, April 24. An opponent has not been set. 

According to an SBU media news release, football fans attending the game are requested to wear masks and remain socially distanced at all times. 

“The decision to allow fans at our outdoor spring venues is extended on a conditional basis provided that the COVID-19 infection rates remain low,” the release stated. “The fan environment will be closely monitored, and the university reserves the right to make adjustments to this plan as needed.”

Coach Robert Clardy did not return a request for comment. 

Tennis tops rankings

Earlier this month, SBU womens’ tennis garnered its highest ever position in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association national rankings. 

The Lady Bearcats impressed pollsters, garnering a seventh place slot. 

SBU’s previous best was ninth. 

The position is seven spots better than SBU’s preseason projection at 14th. 

SBU claimed a 4-3 comeback victory over Montevallo University on Friday, March 26, then fell 6-1 to Division 1 Missouri State University on Saturday, March 27. 

Meanwhile, SBU’s mens’ tennis team competed for the first time in Bolivar at the John Bryant Tennis Center on SBU’s campus. 

According to an SBU news release, the last home match was in May 2019 when SBU defeated Harding 4-0 in the Central Region Championships. 

Friday's matchup featured the Harding Bison as well, resulting in a similar outcome — a 6-1 victory by the Bearcats. 

The win helps SBU to an 8-8 record on the year.

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