For quarterback Kenny Hrncir, Saturday’s season opener against Texas College will mark the start of his first season at UTPB.

It will also be his last as the fifth year transfer from East Central University has no more eligibility after this season.

While it may be the final season for Hrncir as a player, he’s looking to make the most of it as he suits up for the Falcons this year.

“It’s exciting,” Hrncir said. “I can’t wait. It’s exciting to play with these guys and meet new people. I think everyone’s ready for it.”

The Falcons will begin the season against NAIA Texas College at 6 p.m. Saturday at Astound Broadband Stadium in Midland.

The quarterback followed UTPB head coach Kris McCullough from Ada, Okla., after the coach took over at UTPB.

After McCullough was named the second head coach in UTPB football history in Dec. 2022, Hrncir soon followed his mentor to the Permian Basin.

Hrncir has worked with McCullough plenty of times.

Before McCullough was promoted to head coach in 2022 at East Central, he served as the special teams coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2018 and 2019 before becoming offensive coordinator in 2020.

“Coach is great,” Hrncir said. “I’ve been with him for four years. I prayed a lot about it. It was exciting to come back.”

Hrncir arrived at UTPB with plenty of experience.

For three years, he was the starting quarterback at East Central.

Last year, he helped the Tigers to a 9-3 overall record and a 38-21 victory over Texas A&M-Kingsville in the Heritage Bowl, the school’s first bowl victory in 62 years.

The Falcons are entering their eighth season as a football program.

Hrncir talked about some of the other differences between UTPB and East Central as well as Odessa and Ada, Okla.

For one, Odessa (population 118,141) is slightly larger than Ada (population 16,842).

“It’s a different town,” Hrncir said of Ada. “There’s a lot more here. Ada was a great place though, just different cultures. Oklahoma is a little different from here. Still, there’s great people here and great administration.”

His experience has helped prepare him for the next stop in his college career.

“I think every year, I’ve learned new things about the defenses and tried to become a better leader and more vocal and show people how it’s done,” Hrncir said. “Every year, I’ve been trying to grow as a teammate and grow as a person.”

UTPB quarterback Kenny Hrncir looks for an open receiver during a play at practice Wednesday at Falcon Field. Michael Bauer|Odessa American

Hrncir wasn’t the only new face at UTPB this year as many players followed Hrncir and McCullough from East Central to Odessa.

It’s not just players from East Central that transferred to UTPB.

Getting to know everyone was a challenge for Hrncir and the rest of his teammates this past spring.

“It was very competitive,” Hrincir said. “There are a lot of new guys coming into new systems. Everyone’s learning and competing every day. There’s a lot of one-on-one and everyone’s trying to get better.”

Since then, things have started to fall into place on the field.

“It’s been good,” Hrncir said of fall camp. “Most of that is because all the guys have welcomed each new transfer with open arms, all the leaders that were here last year. Most of them stayed and accepted everyone because they want to win just like everyone else.”

Last year, Hrncir went 212 of 354, passing-wise, with 7 interceptions for 2,556 yards as he threw 19 touchdown passes, placing him fourth in the Great American Conference in passing.

He also rushed for 306 yards from 115 carries in 2022.

He’s hoping the success carries over to UTPB as the Falcons are coming off a 5-6 overall record (4-5 in Lone Star play).

UTPB is searching for its first winning season (not including the 2021 spring football season).

“You learn more each and every game,” Hrncir said. “I had the great pleasure of playing over 30 games in college. You learn something every game that you can use in the next game.”

Hrncir graduated with his undergrad in kinesiology and he’s currently finishing his masters in business.

He aims to go into coaching at the collegiate level after his time at UTPB is done.

He talked about some of the things he’s learned about coaching from McCullough.

“Organizational stuff and how there’s a lot more to coaching than just on the field stuff,” McCullough said. “He’s taught me a lot over the years.”

As Hrncir turns his attention to this week’s season opener against Texas College, he and his teammates are treating this like a trap game.

“Anything can happen any week,” Hrncir said. “We’re taking this opponent like it’s any other week. They’re a good team and they have good solid players. We have to go in and be ready to hit someone and see where it goes.”