BY Anthony Saccone
Assistant Sports Editor
The Sacred Heart Club Football team opened up their season with a 47-6 win over Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU) in the team’s home opener.
During the victory, the Sacred Heart offensive rushing attack led the way. The team set a program team rushing record, with 371 total rushing yards, shared between five different players. The leading rushers were graduate student running back J.J. Duffrene, who rushed for 156 yards and three touchdowns on just eight carries.
“It just felt amazing to be out there playing the game I love,” said Duffrene. “To be able to accomplish something that hasn’t been done in a while with a great group of guys was also great.”
The second leading rusher in the game was junior Brian Sander, who was not far behind Duffrene. He rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns on just seven total carries.
“I just try to stay calm and keep my composure on the field,” said Sander. “The offensive line was a great help for me to push the ball down the field and get some points on the board.”
The offensive attack started with the game plan from Offensive Coordinator Nick Bartoli, who was able to exploit ECSU’s weaknesses.
“Honestly, looking at the defense, we were playing from the sideline, I felt confident that we could gain some yards running the football,” said Bartoli. “I wasn’t calling plays to break a record, I was calling them to take advantage of what the defense was giving us. I didn’t hesitate to call a run in a 3rd and long situation.”
Head coach Gregory Jones sees a team full of depth that can go out and compete every weekend, no matter the opponent.
“We have a very talented team, and they’re equipped with enough to reach the last game of the season,” said Jones. “If we can get all 11 guys on the field working together for a common goal, we’ll turn some heads this year for sure.”
Duffrene credited the success to the play calling from Bartoli along with the rest of the coaching staff. He also said that the effort from the entire team allowed them to dominate from the beginning of the game.
The defense, like the offense, seemed to do no wrong, allowing only six points the entire game, not allowing a point after the first quarter.
“We have a violent defense. All 11 guys run to the football and wreak havoc on whoever has the ball in their hands,” said Jones. “We condition enough to make sure in the last series of the game, we’re able to run just as fast to the football as we did from the first play of the game.”
Two seasons ago, Club Football rose to the top of the top as they won the National Championship. The team uses that experience as a building block for the season.
“We are an experienced team that has the same goals of getting back to the National Championship,” said Sander. “We are a dangerous team because we are well conditioned and coached by a great staff that knows how to utilize their talented athletes in order to bring home a win.”
The team does not feel any pressure to get back to the National Championship, as this season will be a week by week mentality.
“We know we have a target on our backs because of our recent history with the league,” said Jones. “But we take this one game at a time and look forward to traveling up to the University of Vermont to kick off conference play.”
Sacred Heart Club Football’s next contest will take place on Oct. 12 at the University of Vermont.