BY Louis Frey
The Sacred Heart University football team had their first conference matchup of the season on Sept. 22, by defeating Wagner College 41-14, in Staten Island, N.Y. That made them 3-0 overall, making it the second time in three years that the team started their season in such a fashion.
The team is confident with how the season has gone so far but they know there is more work to do.
“It feels great, but we know we haven’t accomplished anything yet. Our goal is much more than three games,” said fifth-year senior quarterback Kevin Duke. “Winning is certainly fun and it brings confidence and an increase in morale to the team. The key is to stay focused as the season moves on.”
Duke had a career game against Wagner. He threw for 322 yards and scored four touchdowns, which was a career high. Although Duke is happy about his achievement, his personal stats aren’t his main goals.
“I was fortunate enough to be put in those positions. My teammates and coaches trusted me to do what we had to do, and that goes both ways,” said Duke. “I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Both Duke and head coach Mark Nofri believe that the comradery between the players and coaches on and off the field has contributed to the early season success.
“This year has been phenomenal,” said Nofri. “For whatever reason, these kids are really fun to be around and are really fun to coach. There is a lot of excitement and they feed off one another’s energy.”
Nofri and his staff take on other roles for the players. This has allowed them to get the most out of the players every week in practices and games.
“The coaches do a phenomenal job at balancing out being our coach, mentor, and friend,” said fifth-year senior Andrew O’Neill. “They get the best out of the players and know each individual’s limits.”
The team has focused on certain aspects for both the offensive and defensive line. The offensive line has prioritized on carrying the football properly in order to ensure that they always have a chance to make it to the end zone and score. The defensive line has learned tactics to cause fumbles, sacks and turnovers.
“We’ve excelled at winning the turnover battle every game,” said Nofri. “We’ve been in the plus side, which is huge.”
On Sept. 29, the team wrapped up a three-game road trip with a non-conference matchup at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. There, the team took their first loss of the season, 43-24, making them 3-1 overall on the season.
As the team moves forward in conference play, Nofri said he hopes they continue to run the ball, stay on the plus side of the turnover battle, stay healthy, and build on the success they had in the first three games. He also hopes they improve their discipline with penalties.
“We have to practice well and hard; we can’t get ahead of ourselves,” said fifth-year senior Jordan Meachum. “We have to keep doing the right things.”
The team returns home to Campus Field for their next game. It will be against the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), on Oct. 6, at 3 p.m.