The Augustana Vikings football team may be 1-1 so far in the 2018 season, but it is treating every game as if it were the first.
“We want to get better every game. We really do, we want to be a better football team every time we take the field and that’s really where our focus is,” Augustana head coach Jerry Olszewski said. “You’ll hear people say 1-0, our whole thing is about getting better. Our whole mantra this year is never be satisfied, stay humble and hungry in the process.”
After opening their season with a win against Upper Iowa, the Vikings stayed home for a hard-fought gridiron battle on Saturday against the No. 3 ranked Minnesota State University Mavericks. In the end, the Vikings came up short with a tight 38-36 loss to the Mavericks, but coach Olszewski believes that the team is improving and will continue to do so in the games to come.
“The overriding goal of this football team is get better every week and make sure that we play to the standard, not to the scoreboard,” Olszewski said.
After losing 25 players from last year the Vikings are depending on younger players to step up and make big plays.
“If you look at it we have really three to four returning starters on defense and six to seven returning starters on offense. And some of those guys were put into a role that started maybe two games, so there’s a lot of new faces,” Olszewski said.
The Vikings are certain to face some hardships as they continue into the season.
“I don’t think it’s going to be any different challenges than every other team is gonna face,” senior linebacker Kirby Hora said.
“It’s going to be new faces, but at the same time new people have to step up and make plays, and I think that’s what we did, and I think that’s what we’ll continue to do. So, it’s just going to be a matter of sticking to the scheme of what we have, and don’t come out and try to be an individual, we’re going to do it as a team.”
The team will focus on communication as it continues into the rest of the season, said senior defensive end Joey Newman.
“I think the biggest area of improvement is communication. It’s kind of been what we’ve been hitting all fall camp and now in the season, we just need to make sure that we’re communicating things because as long as everybody is on the same page, it’s a lot more difficult to make those mental errors,” Newman said.
Last season the team had a large number of injuries, something that it hopes to avoid as much as possible this season.
“When those injuries come in crucial spots, I mean, it’s tough,” said Newman. “We’ve already had some injuries that haven’t turned out the best, but at the same time we have younger guys, and not even just younger guys but second-string guys and third string guys that can step up and make plays too. So it’s just building up that level from ones down to threes.”
Next Saturday, Augustana will head to Wayne, Neb., where it will take on the Wayne State Wildcats at 6 p.m.
Although it is the football team that will play the game, Olzewski believes that the Augustana fans are just as important.
“Augie is a special place,” he said. “It’s very special, and we need to support all of our students and all of our activities, and I want people to be there. I want our students at the games, and staying until the end of the game, and being loud and crazy, and having fun and experiencing college like it should be, because we’re the greatest place around and our students have to know that.”