The Augustana football team clinched the win on an important day to the athletic program: Senior Day.
On Nov. 4, the team took down the Golden Bears of Concordia-Saint Paul 28-13, finishing its season strong at home.
Even though the season didn’t end with the team in post-season play, head coach Jerry Olszewski said that the season took out some positives that can translate over to the next season.
“What I like is how our kids responded to the adversity and came out and played competitive football,” Olszewski said. “This is one where they showed true grit and continued to play hard when at the end of the season we aren’t playing for a championship or a playoff spot.”
Olszewski also noted how injuries played a major role in the season turnout.
“I’ve been in this business for 25 years, and I’ve never had as many injuries as I have had this season,” Olszewski said. “Across the board, there has not been a single position that hasn’t had a player miss for a week. Not any lineup has been the same.”
With key players including quarterback Ryan Rubley and wide receiver Nate Merriman, younger players have been called up to the ranks. Two true freshmen, Kyle Saddler and Connor Jackson, were moved into the starting lineup.
To add to the injuries plaguing the team, the quarterback position was a hot topic that had fans talking all season.
Within a six month time span, the team went through a total of six quarterbacks. As former quarterback Chase Marso went to medical school and Casey Nicholls had a serious injury, four players came in ready to compete for the spot.
Ryan Rubley, a graduate transfer student, had a concussion halfway through the season. Bobby Calmeyn, a junior college transfer student, was also injured early in the season and never got a chance to enter the rotation.
In addition, Kyle Saddler, a true freshman, came in from playing high school football and proved himself well, but injuries took him out of a game as well. Gage McClanahan, a sophomore, has also had to step up this season.
“The stability and the continuity at times that got out of normalcy is what impacted the team the most,” Olszewski said. “But at the same time, the coaches did an excellent job of implementing game plans for our players to be successful. We’re not gonna sit back and say that’s a reason why we failed overall with our record or our lack of offensive performance. We just have to raise up the bar.”
With the final game of the season coming up on Nov. 11 at Winona State, Olszewski said, “We wanna finish strong, and that starts by competing every practice. We talked about having a winning attitude and to ‘win the day’ in the little things we do everyday.” Looking to improve to 5-6 overall this season, the Augustana football team is looking to win their last game on the schedule.
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