Troy Calhoun is excited to begin his 13th season as head coach of the Air Force Academy football team.

But before August hits and Division I football practice gets into full swing, the 52-year-old found some time to make a brief visit to Roseburg last weekend.

Calhoun, a 1985 graduate of Roseburg High School, was accompanied by his wife, Amanda, and their two children. His mother, Joan Leslie, who now lives in Corvallis, joined them during the trip, which included a stop at the coast.

“It was short, but a good trip (to Oregon),” Calhoun said Monday. “It’s the best (coming back to Roseburg). You’re fortunate to know how many great friends you have. It goes by way too fast.”

Calhoun spent a good portion of Saturday fishing on the Umpqua River with some high school friends. His high school football coach, Thurman Bell, was among those participating.

“It was fun,” Calhoun said. “We had five boats and caught a bunch of fish.”

Calhoun, a quarterback for the Indians from 1982-84, went on to play collegiately at Air Force and graduated from the academy in 1989.

He’s been in charge of the Falcons’ program since 2007 and heads into the ’19 season with a record of 87-67. Air Force has made nine bowl appearances during his reign.

The Falcons return 15 starters and have bowl aspirations after finishing 5-7 overall in 2018. They were fourth in the Mountain West Mountain Division at 3-5. Their seven losses came by an average of 6.3 points.

“We were really competitive in a bunch of games,” Calhoun said. “It was good for the new guys to get a taste of college football, and hopefully that will help get us into a bowl game this year.

“We have a few more starters back than we had last year ... we’re a little older, certainly stronger. We had a good off-season in the weight room and a productive spring session.”

The Falcons are a member of the Mountain Division along with Boise State, Utah State, Wyoming, Colorado State and New Mexico. Taking over at Utah State is former Oregon State coach Gary Andersen.

Lindy’s magazine picks Air Force to finish fourth behind Boise State, Utah State and Wyoming. Street & Smith’s has the Falcons taking third behind Boise State and Utah State.

“Two teams in our division (Utah State and Boise State) finished in the top 20 last year,” Calhoun said. “A lot of things will have to break right for us. We’ll have to make some significant hay during those 3 1/2 weeks in August.”

The Falcons run a triple-option offense. They ranked fifth in the country last year in rushing with 283.7 yards a game. Their top two quarterbacks, junior Donald Hammond III and senior Isaiah Sanders, return.

“Quarterback Donald Hammond III has experience around him at running back and on the line,” Lindy’s magazine says. “The defense has some playmakers, but depth will be an issue.”

“If the defense improves even a little, that combination with a high-powered offense will again make the Falcons an opponent no teams looks forward to facing once more,” Street & Smith’s says.

Air Force opens its season on Aug. 31 against Colgate, one of six games on the home schedule. The Falcons visit Pac-12 member Colorado on Sept. 14 in a game that will be televised by the Pac-12 Network and begin conference play Sept. 20 at Boise State in a Friday night contest that will be televised on ESPN2.

“The schedule might be as stout as we’ve played,” Calhoun said. “We’re playing Colorado for the first time in 45 years and that will stir it up in the state.”

Tom Eggers can be reached at teggers@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4220.

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Sports Editor

Tom Eggers is the sports editor for The News-Review. He can be reached at teggers@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4220.

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