Football Looks To Make More History

Mitchell Frantz, Sports Columnist

Misericordia’s football team has experienced a ton of growing pains since the program has gotten off the ground. After the program’s first year in 2012, where the Cougars went winless and lost by an average of 45 points a game, the team was only able to muster out one win a season between 2013 and 2017.

In 2018, the team was picked 10th out of 11 teams in the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) preseason poll, with the team not expected to be successful once again. Feeling disrespected by the league, the Cougars came into the season hungrier than ever and determined to be great.

“I think as a team we became more committed to perfection or trying to achieve perfection. We held each other more accountable, and we pushed our limits not only on the field at practice but also in the weight room,” said senior defensive lineman Blaze Kelly.

Come game day this past year, the players had unprecedented trust in each other which sent the Cougars to a different level.

“The chemistry we had was amazing,” said senior wide receive Isaiah “Flock” Williams. “Everybody knew the talent and players we had could get the job done to win games. And then when we beat Widener, I think that just put everything into play.

“We saw that everyone was gonna put it all on the line for each and every play until the clock hit zero and when we got that win, it just motivated us to go get the next one and the next one,” he continued. “Each game was a dog fight and coming out with a W each week boosted our confidence in ourselves and one another to go out and do it again.”

The work certainly paid off, as the team surprised a lot of people en route to winning a program best eight games in 2018. Coming into 2019 and losing a strong group of players to graduation, new leaders have emerged to take the team to an even higher level.

“Anytime you graduate a big class of seniors, it’s tough to recreate that leadership,” said Kelly. “Last year, we had a lot of really great guys who not only played great but were a huge part of our culture change. But we also have a lot of players this year who have stepped up and become leaders and great role models for our underclassmen, especially our captains and leadership council.”

New leaders have begun to emerge and the team is seeing success to start out the season. After losing a well fought game to McDaniel College, the Cougars hosted Keystone College and ended that game with the largest victory in program history, steamrolling the Giants to a 47-7 victory. With the win, the Cougars have gained a ton of confidence heading into conference play.

“I like the position we are in now,” said Williams, who is also a member of the team’s leadership council. “We have guys stepping into spots now, replacing the seniors who graduated from last year, that are starting to get a feel for things. There has been huge progress for a lot of players from the start of camp until now and it’s all the reps and now having two varsity games and a scrimmage under their belt.

“We are able to get the preseason jitters out and now we’re on the bye week sharpening our skills and working out the little mistakes we had here and there getting ready to make another run in the conference,” he continued. “We’re all really excited and ready to get this show on the road.”

It will be difficult to recreate the magic of the 2018 season as the team transitions from being under the radar to being a contender for the MAC championship in the eyes of the conference. The team was picked fifth out of 11 teams in the 2019 MAC preseason poll, a significant jump from last year’s ranking.

While the ranking has changed, the mission from last year has stayed the same.

“The goal is to win the MAC as it was last year,” said Kelly. “We came short of our goal last year but we’re confident this year that we have put ourselves in a good position to make another run and hopefully do something that this program has never done.”

The Cougars opened conference play with a home game against Lebanon Valley College on Sept. 28.