Football: Cougars Look to Make History Next Year

Michael Diakunczak, Reporter

The football team again gave it a valiant effort but ultimately failed to make history in the fall season.

Since the university began the program in  2012, the team has not won more than one game in regular season play. The record since the inaugural season has been 5-55, when all five wins have been a combination between Middle Atlantic conference competition: Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham and cross town rival, Wilkes University.

 The 2017 season was a roller coaster ride. The season kicked off with three consecutive losses – to Merchant Marine Academy,  Albright College and Widener University. During the Widener game, key injuries started to rack up for the Cougars. Brandon Leap, senior quarterback, was sidelined to a season-ending broken collarbone which adversely impacted the Cougars’ offense. However, young talent stepped up to the plate. Brady Williams, sophomore quarterback, brought an explosive offensive performance on the ground and through the air to help the Cougars get one in the win column against Wilkes University in October.

Since then, the Cougars went on a dry spell to find that next win; losing the next five games in regular season play. Through all games, the Cougars put on a display of great effort on both sides of the ball. However, the scoreboard does not show effort; it shows points. More adversity for the Cougars led to more players on the lower end of the depth chart to step up and play ball, including sophomore quarterback Aaron Barry who had to lead the offense when Williams also had his season come to an end to a collarbone injury. Barry, with leadership qualities and a powerful arm, was ready to give the Cougars one more chance to make history heading into the last game of the season against Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham.

The Cougars took the trip to Madison, New Jersey for the regular season finale to attempt to add another tally in the win column for the first time ever. Sixty minutes were on the board and both went to war. Barry put on a performance displaying his potential, with a stat line of: 48 rushing yards, 175 passing yards, two rushing touchdowns, and two passing touchdowns. The other side of the ball came to compete as well when the Cougars’ defense forced two turnovers and racked up three sacks. After a clutch 30 yard field goal, made by senior kicker Ryan Davis, the Cougars took a 36-35 lead and the momentum. However, after an impressive final drive by the Devils, the Cougars were left with nothing as the Devils scored in the final two seconds to win the game 41-36.

“It was heartbreaking way to end the season,” said Skyler Behrend, sophomore offensive lineman

Despite the team’s failure to make history, the players are not discouraged about the future of the program. Tyler Colonno, sophomore offensive lineman, reflected on the loss and what it meant for him and the program.

“After the results of the game, the only emotion that came over me was sadness. I was upset that the underclassmen were not able to send the seniors off the right way. This senior class came into the program when it was still in the building process. They believed in the process and wanted to be apart of something special. Knowing all of this, it drives me and many other underclassmen to work hard in the offseason so that we can send the following senior classes off right,” said Colonno.

The team is ready to get to work in the offseason after they return from winter break in just a few weeks. Barry believes the offseason training will provide a good outcome for the program’s history heading into next season.

“It was upsetting to know we had a chance to make history and had the opportunity to win, but I feel like it should fuel us to be better next year and know what it takes to make history,” Barry added.