Team Wraps Up Playing ‘Champion Level Football’

Sierra Crane, Reporter

The football team has ended its historic season by making history one more time.

The team hosted its very first bowl game against Ursinus College Nov. 17. It is the first time in football history that a team has advanced beyond regular season play to a championship game. Ultimately, the Cougars lost 14-70.

“It’s tough to watch someone else celebrate something like that on your home field, but it’s part of what we signed up for,” said head coach Mark Ross.

Ross was happy to see players’ hard work finally pay off and land them in an eleventh game.

“Playing an eleventh game is championship level football,” Ross said. “You’ve got to learn what it takes to play at that level.”

Players have certainly learned a lot about championship level games.  Ross said there were many distractions the week before the big game, such as class registrations and a snowstorm that prevented players from being fully prepared.

“There was a lot of distractions so we have to learn how to handle all that stuff,” said Ross.

Ross said preparation leads to motivation, which ultimately leads to a good performance.

Ross said they they did have a few good plays.

The Cougar’s offense had a few nice runs down the field and even got in some third downs.

What ultimately defeated the Cougars was calling too many blitz plays, he said.

“The old saying is you live by the blitz and die by the blitz,” Ross said. “I maybe called one or two many, and that contributes to giving up so many points.”

Ross, a former coach at Ithaca College, has had many winning seasons, but he cannot recall ever winning eight games in a row.

“I hope it opens people’s eyes to what we can accomplish. I hope it raises the bar, so to speak, for future teams here.”

Ross loves the school’s support and hopes it continues, but he tries not to listen to what other people have to say about the team.

“What’s most important is the team that you’re dealing with,” said Ross. “It takes a lot to win a game, and to do it eight in a row, it takes a lot of grit. I think it takes a lot of caring about the guy next to you.”

Ross credits the team’s brotherhood for their success.

One of  Ross’ favorite moments was when the team went bowling during the preseason.

“It was just good to get with the guys and get out away from the game itself. I won’t forget that,” said Ross.

Last spring, a few of the players and coaches went to Sky Zone and spent the day jumping on trampolines together.

Ross wants his team to know that it’s not the games that matter but the brotherhood formed in the weeks and months that they are together.

“I tell the guys all the time that at the end of this all, it’s the things you do in the locker room or what goes on at practice on the sideline when you’re not on the field for reps. Those are the things you remember,” Ross said .

Ross was able to trust the team more than he has in past seasons.

“I trusted this group probably more in terms of just saying ‘go play, go play fast.’ Even if you are making a mistake, do it as hard as you can and we will fix it from there,” said Ross. “It made for an enjoyable season.”

Ross has also learned a lot about his players during this historic season. He learned that his team never gave up and refused to take no as an answer.

“We have a resilient group. They just refuse to give up in any situation. They work hard. They’re fun to be around,” Ross said.

Ross learned a few things about himself, too. At times, he still needs to count to ten a little more before moving forward, he said.

During the offseason, players will hit the weight room and get ready for next fall.

Coaches, on the other hand, have their eyes out for new recruits to help the team succeed even more next year.