By Jack Sullivan
On April 8, the Sacred Heart University football team had their annual Spring Red Versus White scrimmage. Coach Mark Nofri and his team prepare for the 2017 fall season with this as their last event open to the public.
The teams were split with offense wearing red and defense in white. Although they were split into their respective teams, the guys were just happy to be out there playing football again.
“It’s April 8, we got work to do,” said Nofri. “It’s a process and we got work to do and we got to do it to get ready for the season.”
Immediately when they hit the field, the team was ready to show the crowd how hard they have been working this spring.
“I loved the energy and I loved the comradery of the guys,” said Nofri. “I like our senior leadership and some of the freshmen and showing us what they can do this spring.”
The scrimmage was split into different parts throughout the day. The team started off with combined team warm ups. Then they had a red versus white scrimmage with 11 versus 11 play and also a split with the seven on seven play to look more closely at certain positions and how the guys match up.
“The kids pull for one another and they are competitive,” said Nofri. “We talk about it all the time, to be a good football team we have to be a good player, you got to have team chemistry and be emotional and that is one thing the guys did today.”
Upcoming junior quarterback Kevin Duke participated in the spring game as the QB1 for the red team.
“We came out and we battled and it didn’t go our way,” said Duke. “Defense came out and played well and the offense didn’t execute well enough. It is a good thing though because it’s a spring game and we have the summer to clean things up before August.”
Duke isn’t looking for accolades or high personal statistics this season, it’s just about him and his relationship with his team.
“I want to go out there, play my hardest, have fun, and be out there playing with the guys,” said Duke. “I want our guys to understand that at any moment the game or play can be taken away from us and that we need to execute the way we want to win.”
At the spring scrimmage, the captains of the 2017 season were announced.
Duke was one of the captains selected. Upcoming senior Kevin Barry, fifth-year senior Ose Imeokaria, senior CJ Paravelus and junior Andrew O’Niell were also awarded this leadership role for their team.
Becoming a captain and obtaining a leadership role for the team was a goal that Duke had.
“It’s an honor in itself, being the guy on the team that wants to lead the team, and this season that’s what I am going to do,” said Duke.
Sacred Heart won back to back conference titles in the 2013-14 season, and that is one of Nofri’s goals for the upcoming season.
“I would like to win the NEC title again and get my third, and bring another one home,” said Nofri. “I want to see my kids do well on and off the field, I want us to be a smart, disciplined football team.”
Nofri takes pride in his team and what they stand for, as well as the legacy of the team.
“I want people to know that Sacred Heart is not a one or two year wonder team,” said Nofri. “I want us to be consistent and be a winning team in the NEC and have my kids represent Sacred Heart the best they can.”