Football Seniors Lead Cougars


Anthony Vega, Reporter

The time has finally come: MU football’s first class of recruits are seniors.

For the first time, the team will enjoy veteran leadership.

The football team has 21 seniors on its roster, many of whom were thrown into leadership roles as young, inexperienced freshmen, and that led to a nightmare of an inaugural season in which the average loss was 46 points.  This team’s freshman year was missing three key components: leadership, experience, and togetherness.

“There are no more excuses for us. We have four recruiting classes now just like every other team in the conference. It’s time to produce results,” said senior Anthony Buffa.

In August 2012, all 21 players were present as the first season began, and now they have their final season. Throughout their time here, many competitors have taken advantage of playing such a young team. Instead of deterring these seniors, they use all of the big losses as motivation.

“In the past we were the team with no college football experience, but now we’re the team that has seniors with four years of game action as experience,” said Buffa.

According to sophomore wide receiver Mike Niggli, leadership is an important part of any team’s success.

“Coming in as freshmen, it was hard for someone to step up. No one knew anyone, so it took a while for leaders to step up,” returning captain Kevin Bagasevich said.

The first season was a growing experience and after the inaugural season, change needed to happen.

The team started to rely on each other because without each other, success would be hard to achieve.

“The team has come a long way since my freshman year. Our team has always worked hard, but now we know how to work better as a team. I think we work so well together because everyone on the team is friends with each other. When someone does something wrong, we get on each others backs so they do not do it again. Three years ago, this did not happen,” said Bagasevich.

Bagasevich, who was voted as a team captain last fall, said players are working very hard towards a common goal.

“Win games and go out on top with the brothers I started this journey with,” is the goal for senior Connor Duffy. Duffy believes his freshman year was “trial by fire” because that class had no foundation and had no idea how things would turn out during that season.

Everyone wishes to make an impact on a team when they first arrive on campus, but these seniors have not only made a difference; they have established a foundation for the future of the program.

Something that all four athletes mentioned was how much this football team felt like a family. The sense of togetherness is what is making everyone in the organization excited to see what this fall brings.

“We’re more than just a team, it’s a family, and because we’re so close, we aren’t afraid to push each other to get better,” said Buffa.

This level of player encouragement is new to the program, and it brings a sense of accountability to the team, said Niggli.

“Well, during the first week of school, we were all getting use to things here on campus, and I turned to some older teammates at my position for help with balancing schoolwork and football,” said Niggli.

This group of upperclassmen goes out of their way to help make sure first year students are adjusting to campus life.

By being so involved with each other, the seniors are installing the foundation for what they want the program to be even after they graduate.

“They have built such a great foundation here, and I’m excited to be apart of this programs future,” said Niggli.

Seniors say they have one season left, and they expect to go out with a bang. They have already shown the underclassmen how to lead.

“We’ve worked so hard for so long just to get to this point. We can’t be satisfied with what we have accomplished. We have to stay hungry,” said Buffa.

As the season approaches, the team is ready for all of their hard work and dedication to pay off.

“I can’t project how the team will do this year, but the team has worked its hardest ever during our off-season. We know what is expected from us, and we are working hard towards certain goals,” said Bagasevich.

This year’s team will come in with three crucial things that they didn’t have three years ago when they took to the field against Gettysburg. They now have leadership, experience, and a sense of brotherhood.