Pioneers football team to play two games this semester, first game March 23


Photo: Nick McAdam

Matthew Robinson, Staff Writer

The Utica College football team will play two games this semester, part of an ongoing initiative from the athletic department and the Empire 8 conference to run multiple sports, regardless of the normal season of the sport, all at the same time.

The team’s first game will be against Alfred University on Tuesday, March 23 at Charles A. Gaetano Stadium and the second game away at Alfred on Monday, March 29. 

“We are excited to get back and play, it feels like it has been forever since we played a game, sophomore wide receiver Nick Billand said. “Most of the seniors have been waiting for this day for a long time now and with only a week away from kick-off the coaches and players are getting more excited.”

A total of 13 seniors will return on the Pioneers roster. Senior linebacker Kwasi Addo looks to lead the defense after finishing the 2019 season with all 10 games started, 41 solo tackles and 97 tackles for loss, along with one interception  His presence on the field will be key, along with his leadership which is something the team will need entering this season with only two games scheduled and practice time cut short. 

Another force on the defense will be sophomore defensive end John Stroughn, who was the youngest player on the starting defense collecting 11 tackles and four sacks which he led the team in. With only having the two games scheduled, look for a dominant force between Stroughn and Addo who will look to anchor a new-looking defense with different faces in the mix.

Offensively, many from the offensive line will return and some new players will join the Pioneers’ team and plenty of new ones as well will be added to the mix. 

“The quarterback position will be a position many will be fighting for, it’s between four players now and the race is tight,” Billand said. “The practice is a battle every day and it seems like any of these guys will be ready come game time.” 

Leading rushers Jamarious Morgan and Tim Hogan will look to have breakout seasons. Morgan rushed for 554 and 5 touchdowns while Hogan rushed for 112 and averaged 8.8 yards per play. Nate Palmer will lead the receivers after returning from a 323-yard season as a sophomore along with Kevin Warmack with 182 yards in eight games played. 

Maki Medici, a senior kicker, looks to lead the special teams unit as he received an All-American nomination. Many games in the 2019 season came down to the wire, so having a reliable kicker is key. 

Without many practices left until game time, the team seems confident that they are in a good spot leading up to game day this weekend.