Jordan Hughes, Staff Writer
Football is something nearly everyone is a fan of. Here at Utica College, it’s basically a religion. Fans eat, sleep and breath football. This weekend, the Pioneers played their homecoming game against #24 ranked Cortland State. The team was off to an awesome start coming into Saturday’s game 3-0, one of the best starts in program history.
The team was off to a great start in this one as they were up 12-7 at the end of first half. With the help of senior running back, Ryan Burnett, and Juwan Wilson, the Pioneers were able to win 24-13 and improve to 4-0 with a big homecoming game win.
This was the true test for the Pioneers considering this was their first game against a nationally ranked opponent this season. The team was very optimistic going into Saturday. There’s something special about this team and it’s the buzz around town.
Senior wide receiver Jarred Beniquez, aided in the pioneers win with a team-high six catches for a solid 70 yards. Beniquez is within striking distance of the colleges all-time all-purpose leader, a top honor to achieve.
It’s not all about stats for these players; it’s about wins and losses as a team. A trait of non-selfishness is easy to see throughout the team.
“It’s more of a ‘we’ over ‘me’ approach from the top of the roster to the bottom,” Beniquez said.
Going into such a big game, it is easy to get distracted and uncontrolled with the atmosphere of a big game, not to mention homecoming. The team did a great job of playing together and staying composed, a big part of what head coach, Blaise Faggiano, stresses no matter the game.
The Pioneers are a team to not be taken lightly. Full of energy, they have some high potential to be a top contender for the Empire 8 title. After their win against Cortland, the team has surely put their name on the map.
“It shows people we’re not a program to underestimate,” sophomore running back, Louis Mongilia, said.
Mongilia is a newcomer to the Pioneer football team. He also plays on the baseball team as a shortstop. Football has always been a passion of his so joining the team this year was an easy decision for him to make.
Senior captain, Juwan Wilson, made his way into the Pioneers record books with his 10 tackles in Saturday’s game. If you haven’t seen Wilson play, it should be on your to-do list. Last year, he finished the season with 115 tackles. Currently at 32 tackles (third all-time), Wilson is on track to become the all-time leader in tackles by the end of the season.
“I just wanted to get a win for the program that has done so much for me in my life,” Wilson said.
Wilson says he owes he strength and determination to his late mother who passed away this year. Aiming to abided by his promise to be the man she raised him to be is what motivates Wilson on and off the field.
The overall feel of the team this year is something special, the players can feel it and so can the fans. The players have truly developed a strong bond along with a sense of playing for each other not themselves. With a 4-0 record, it seems pretty clear they will go far, but the season is still young, and we wish them the best
The Pioneers made national TV with one of the oddest interceptions anyone has ever seen. After bouncing off a few players, the ball was intercepted by sophomore linebacker, Dehstin Smart. The play made ESPN’s week four must see plays. This being the second time UC has been feature on ESPN in the past two seasons.
This game was a big win for the team. By defeating the #24 Red Dragons the Pioneers have inched their way to a potential national ranking. The team and program are very optimistic about this, but they are more focused on their next game against Ithaca College on Saturday.
The Pioneers play away this Saturday against a 1-3 Bombers team. The following weekend the team returns home to take on SUNY Brockport. The season is still young, but the community and the team have very high hopes for a successful season.