Fall sports preview: Football

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Zach Thomann, Sports Editor

The Utica College football team is off to a good start to the season with a 20-7 win over St. Lawrence University. The team will look to improve upon a 7-4 season last year and have adopted a new mentality.

Head coach Blaise Faggiano and his team are using the theme “Brick by brick” to guide them throughout the season. Faggiano understands that a conference championship is a long-term goal, so the “Brick by brick” mentality will remind his athletes to take each game one play at a time.

Although the team has many new faces, Faggiano’s goals remain consistent and high. To achieve these goals, Utica football must do something it has never done before which is to have back-to-back winning seasons, and to win the Empire 8 conference championship.

“It’s going to be tough,” Faggiano said. “The Empire 8 is one of the best conferences in the country. We usually see the conference winner compete nationally.”

Faggiano believes that fans of previous years will see a different style team. All but one starter on offense has moved on, which means that the old philosophy of passing the football may heavily change. With the addition of two mobile quarterbacks running the offense, Faggiano is expecting a running game to be more of a focal point.

This has running back coach Matt Rogers excited to get the season underway. In his second year as a coach, Rogers likes to remind everyone to take each game one at a time.

“It’s been a long offseason of preparation,” Rogers said. “We have been thinking about this year ever since the tough loss that ended our season.”

Rogers is referring to the James Lynah Bowl last year against Westminster College in which Utica’s season came to an end after suffering their fourth loss of the season 6-33.

“We have grown as a team since then,” Rogers said.

Before the home opener to St. Lawrence, Faggiano was hopeful that his defense would be a strength this year.

“We are looking for players who stepped up last season, to have bigger roles this year,” Faggiano said.

Sophomore Antonio Scala and Senior Anthony Bierria-Anderson were athletes that Faggiano singled out as guys that needed to be leaders. Both defensemen had big games against St. Lawrence which helped lead Utica to a win.

Scala led the team with 11 tackles, including a fumble recovery. Bierria-Anderson finished the game with eight tackles and an interception.

Faggiano is hopeful that the team has moved on from last year and will be even better in 2017.

“Every football team has a one-year life expectancy because athletes graduate and new recruits come in every year,” Faggiano said. “This will be another unique and hopefully successful team.”

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