The Pilgrim football team is preparing for kickoff and has set the bar high as it returns a senior-heavy lineup. The Pats failed to reach the playoffs last year but enter the 2023 fall with …
The Pilgrim football team is preparing for kickoff and has set the bar high as it returns a senior-heavy lineup. The Pats failed to reach the playoffs last year but enter the 2023 fall with experience, confidence and depth.
“You can tell that everyone’s demeanor has changed. Everyone is trying their hardest and making every play count. Everyone is picking each other up and with so many returning seniors we are holding ourselves accountable, doing what we’re supposed to do,” said Cole Bigelli.
Along with Bigelli, some key member s of the roster include quarterback Chace Roberts, as well as playmakers like Jack Coffey, Justyn Murphy and Andrew Vicino, all of whom are seniors.
Vicino is slated to be a leader on the defensive side of the ball and feels that the familiarity within the lineup has helped the team get off to a strong start. The Pilgrim defense is expected to return nine of its starters from last season.
“Having all these guys back with a lot of us already having varsity reps, it’s going to help us out. Specifically, the communication has been better. It has been a lot better on the field and it has allowed us to be able to adapt,” said Vicino.
“It has made it a lot easier. We have already installed most of our playbook so now we are looking at the wrinkles that we can add week to week,” added head coach Blake Simpson.
A big task will be filling in the void left by last year’s running back Matt Santos, who was a bell cow for the offense. The coaching staff has been using multiple backs in the preseason as it looks for answers. Vicino is also poised to contribute in that role as well.
“A lot of us are trying to fill in, we’ve been in the weight room, we’re just trying to fill in for Matt Santos. He was our big player last year. I think we’re looking pretty good at the RB spot, we have a lot of speed backs in a few power backs. We’re not all that big, but we’ve got a lot of strength,” Vicino said.
Roberts will be the starting quarterback after splitting time with Carter Clifton last year, who is recovering from an injury from last basketball season. Simpson has been encouraged by the strides that Roberts made in the offseason.
“He’s looked a lot stronger, especially compared to last year when he had his E. coli scare. He did a lot in the offseason to prepare himself for this year. He played in the Breakthrough Elite 7v7 league which helped his development and prepared him for when we see top tier defenses,” said Simpson.
With the injury fund exhibition this Friday then opening day next week, the Pats are excited to get back into the playoff hunt and make a statement.
“It motivates us a lot. We’ve been talking a lot in the group chats and we’re excited, looking forward to having some revenge games,” said Vicino.
Simpson added: “The expectations are high with so many seniors and returning players. Last year missing the playoffs left a sour taste in all their mouths, so this year the goal is not only to make the playoffs but to make a run at a DIII title as well.”
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