The Augustana football team plans to ‘be the rock’ for the 2019-2020 season, aiming for a long playoff run.
Through strengthened brotherhood and accountability, the team’s goal is to continue to grow and flourish, taking victories where it can, said head coach Jerry Olszewski.
The Vikings ended the 2018-2019 season 7-4, and they were undefeated on the road 6-0.
“The goal is always the same: to be the best football team we can be and win as many games as possible,” Olszewski said. “Players and plans change, expectations do not.”
“Be the rock” is the motto the Vikings have embraced this season, said Blonquist. The motto emphasizes accountability and the effect it has on a team.
“In its purest form, it embodies player empowerment,” Olszewski said. “They need to make a conscious choice to be their best, and when they do so, that sends a message to everyone around them.”
According to Olszewski, each player is responsible for enforcing the motto.
“That’s what makes this team special,” Olszewski said. “That’s the standard, ‘be the rock.’ You do it our way, and you do it all the time.”
The Vikings will take on the season with a brotherly bond, team captain Rudy Sinflorant said.
“I preach that,” Sinflorant said. “When we play a game, we are going to war. People that went to war were brothers—they fought for each other. Family is important.”
According to Sinflorant, the team has no weak links despite the loss of two starters.
Fans will see a few familiar players on offense, but the line is mostly made up of new faces and positions.
A few defensive positions—a starting linebacker, secondary cornerback and defensive end—are being filled by talented players, Olszewski said.
“We have great athleticism, better than we’ve had,” Olszewski said. “We need to use that to our advantage and play fast. We want to make sure [our players] are able to play fast and that their brain isn’t slowing down their feet.”
One of the biggest obstacles for the team is injuries, senior defensive lineman Alec Blonquist said. Blonquist was injured during the team’s fall camp, forcing him to sit out for the first couple of games.
“When someone goes down, we rally behind them. Someone stands up,” Blonquist said.
Freshman Jarod Epperson stepped up after sophomore running back Braiden Petersen was injured Sept. 7, impressing both Blonquist and Olszewski. Petersen is still recovering from a Sept. 18 surgery on his lower leg.
“It’s inevitable that people are going to get hurt,” Blonquist said. “With how deep we are and how we have each other’s backs, we’ll be able to bounce back from injuries.”
The team is currently 2-1. The Vikings claimed their first win with a landslide victory over Upper Iowa University 52-0 at the season opener Sept. 7. However, their second game against rival Minnesota State University, Mankato the Vikings faltered and ended with a 27-7 loss.
A home turf 26-13 win over Wayne State University Sept. 21 brought the Vikings to their current standing of 2-1.
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