Sacrifice Brings Hope For Cougar Football

Arthur Dowell, Web Master

It is early Saturday afternoon, and two football teams line up on the field ready for kickoff. The score is 11 versus 11.

That is where the similarities end.

Thinner and in many cases shorter, Misericordia football players look to be half the size of their opponents. The records and scores are there to prove it . The team finished 0-10 and lost more than double the players than it did games.

Sophomore undeclared Chris Washo played backup quarterback for part of the season.

“When the team was trailing by five touchdowns, coach never put me in,” said Washo.

Washo had taken a year off from play before he picked up the game again this year. He said he had lost his passion to play.

“Days kept getting longer and I would drag my feet knowing I had to go to practice.” said Washo, “Nobody likes being in that situation and I knew it was time to quit.”

Junior Sports Management major Joe Winter stuck it out. While he started late—he decided to put on the pads and helmet for his last two years of college—he decided that he would not finish early.

“It was hard seeing so many people both quit and get nagging injuries,” said Winter. “It’s a long season and it wasn’t getting any shorter when players are quitting and going down.”

Largely due to players’ modest size and strength as compared to other teams in the Mid Atlantic Conference, many suffered injuries, including starting quarterback Jeffrey Puckett.

“When players go down, it is always hard to watch,” said Winter. “You never want to see it happen, but it just means everybody has to be on the same playing level and be ready for the challenges that are expected to happen.”

For players and fans, football is almost synonymous with dedication, and like all sports it is not easy, particularly when the coach is forced to change practice regimens due to the number of lost athletes. The bench became thin, and the coaching staff had to make sure everyone from first string to the fourth string was on the same game plan.

Players practiced for two-hours each Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, studied films every day except Monday, lifted twice a week, and did a walk-through every Friday.

“It’s a challenge to organize everyday life, but that’s something I grew up doing well,” said Winter, “Luckily football doesn’t interfere with my school life, but that’s because I prioritize my days as they come.”

Academic success is the priority for all MU football players, and Winter said that is the one thing he will not sacrifice.

“The team is expected to participate in a mandatory study hall two nights a week. If players are above expected GPA, they are capable of getting out of it.”

The team’s final score of 516 to 54 is something it cannot escape, but it  provides an opening, one that can lead to better games ahead.

“We expect to be much better next year,” said Winter. “After one year of competition in the books, we now know where to go from here on out.”

[email protected]