Aztecs Prepare for Historic 100th Anniversary Season: Preview
The state of San Diego has a lot to celebrate in 2022, but in between accolades and milestones, the Aztecs should be doing business.
After 50+ years of playing in the huge San Diego stadium, the Aztecs will finally play at home to a sold-out crowd.
San Diego, California – For two seasons, the Aztecs played their home games 113 miles north of the SDSU campus in Carson, California. Now the Aztecs are returning home – to their TRUE home in Mission Valley – to a brand new Snapdragon Stadium.
Prior to their temporary home for two years, Dignity Health Sports Park, the Aztecs played in SDCCU; formerly known as Qualcomm Stadium, formerly Jack Murphy Stadium, formerly San Diego Stadium. The Aztecs have never, NEVER been able to fill the huge 70,561-seat multipurpose sports facility, even when the future superstar is inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. Marshall Faulk adorned the field like a tail. Rarely could the Padres or the Chargers sell out a monstrous stadium. He was just too damn big.
“Murph,” as some called San Diego Stadium, left an indelible mark. It was the only venue for super bowl as well as World Series in the same year (1998). However, it was an imperfect place for Aztec football.
In front of San Diego Stadium: From 1935 to 1966, the Aztecs played at the Mesa in the Aztec Bowl. Thirty years later, in 1996, the Viejas Arena was built literally in the middle of the Aztec Bowl.
1966 would be the last season the Aztecs sold out their own football grounds when the maximum capacity was just 12,592. At the time, the Aztecs were seriously considering building a 45,000-seat stadium on campus, however, the San Diego Stadium was announced and eventually became the one-stop venue for the Padres, Chargers, and Aztecs.
Even before 1935, the Aztecs played football at Balboa Stadium, dating back to the team’s founding 100 years ago – a time that even predated the Aztec spiritual warrior and the scarlet and black university colors.
This season, after more than five decades: Aztec football takes on its own unique place. $310,000,000 was spent on the 35,000 seat Snapdragon Stadium. The stadium is designed to be expandable to 55,000 people, enough for an NFL team or a major NCAA bowl game. The stadium represents a major investment in the future of Aztec football and SDSU athletics.
Snapdragon Stadium will eventually be surrounded by an expansion of the SDSU Mission Valley campus, allowing the university to increase its total enrollment from 36,000 to 50,000. The college area at the top of Mesa will be connected to the Mission Valley campus via light rail.
What to expect this fall
The Aztecs are opening 2022 following a 12-2 season in which they lost the Mountain West championship to Utah State after 20 starters were ruled out due to Covid. After a decisive loss to the Aggies, SDSU went to the Frisco Bowl in Texas and crushed the UTSA Roadrunners 38–24. Who knows what might have been if Covid hadn’t struck.
The Aztecs are maintaining momentum this fall with many returning players and some additional imported talent as they celebrate the program’s 100th anniversary. SDSU begins its second century in style.
It remains to be seen if the conference reorganization will be part of this historic year, but it could mark a special season even more.
SDSU is known for its powerful defense, elite play, and “very” special teams. SDSU consistently wins even with an unsatisfactory attack. The quarterback role was new to the team, and even the diehard Aztec fans would have a hard time calling any of our quarterbacks “elite” in the modern era. Sorry guys.
This year, however, may be a departure from the conventions. The Aztecs have a combination of two very talented passers, one veteran and one rookie, and they manage to deal with the absence of a 1,000-yard defenseman.
Let’s take a closer look.
This season, the transfer quarterback is a Virginia Tech graduate. Braxton Burmeister will evoke plays for the Aztecs. He’s from San Diego, and last year he started in all 12 regular season games, passing for 1,960 yards with 14 touchdowns and four spades. He’s hardened in P-5 combat.
His understudy will be a freshman in a red shirt. Will Haskell. There is a lot of noise with Haskell. Rumor has it that there is a steak. He is athletic and will play a big role in the developing powerful offensive program.
Both veteran and rookie can benefit from the dazzling agility of an older receiver. Jesse Matthews who had 57 catches for 642 yards and nine touchdowns with seniors Tyrell Shavers. Shavers, a 6-foot-6 wide wide receiver from Mississippi, is long and will be second in charge.
Elderly people will participate in the running game. Chance Bell who ran for 341 yards, four touchdowns and Jordan Byrd who managed 246 yards and three touchdowns. USC translation Kenan Christon suitable for the Aztecs. Also, a 220 lb. red shirt freshman Jaylon Armstead will be on the list at the university running back this fall.
Last year, the Aztecs finished 12th in total defense (324.4 ppg) and 17th in defensive scoring (19.8 ppg). The team enters the field without the best defenseman Mountain West Cameron Thomas, who passed in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft in favor of the Arizona Cardinals. Three other rookies have graduated, but the transfer portal has in turn produced some strong talents.
The two transmissions are siblings of the existing Aztecs. Older Justus Tawai (Hawaii) joins brother John Tawai on the defensive line. In addition, junior Cooper McDonald (Washington) joins fan favorite Caden McDonald at the midfielder.
Call it a double whammy.
Remarkably, Patrick McMorris is an All-Mountain West first-team quarterback who led the Aztecs last season with four picks, helping the Aztecs to a conference-record 17 steals. The Aztecs have a deep and formidable secondary team this season.
Junior Jack Browning backfill –Matt Araiza, also known as Punt God, entered the 6th round of the 2022 NFL Draft to the Buffalo Bills. Araiza set a national record with 51.2 yards averaging. The Aztecs did very well with pantomime, field shots, and field goal productivity (don’t forget Araiza’s predecessor, John Baron II), and Browning continues this legacy.
Browning drew attention last year with a surprise 13-yard touchdown on a fake field goal attempt when the Aztecs defeated the Hawaiians. The performance stirred both players and fans, and blew up social networks.
All-MW Strike Back Jordan Byrd able to swim from coast to coast.
So perhaps the second century of Aztec football starts with a surprise attack from the air, and perhaps the Aztecs begin to increase their attacks to match their elite defense (for example, what Brian Dutcher done with men’s basketball in recent years).
The Aztecs are expected to have another 10-win season. Is it possible for them to equal or even beat last year’s season 12-2? It’s not unimaginable. The Aztecs will have incredible momentum this fall. They start the season at home in their new stadium on September 3 against Arizona.
The Aztec Nation congratulates the State of San Diego on their historic 100th anniversary and the opening of the amazing Snapdragon Stadium.