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Football drops season opener in hard fought battle

Emmi Sandoval ’16 completing a touchdown on Saturday. John Brady
Quarterback Sam Poulos ’16  made 20-of-28 passes for 262 yards.  Photo by John Brady
Quarterback Sam Poulos ’16 made 20-of-28 passes for 262 yards.
Photo by John Brady

Mithila Iyer

Last Saturday, the Pioneer football team opened its season against Beloit College at Rosenbloom Field. Despite losing 41-31, Grinnell displayed a high level of play that has them looking forward to the rest of the season.

“I thought it was a pretty good start for us. Obviously, we wanted to come away with a win but there are a lot of things we can build on from this game and a lot of things we learned about ourselves and how we’re going to match up against the rest of the Conference,” said head coach Jeff Pedersen ’02. 

There were several standout performers of the day with senior players providing a solid foundation for first-years players to find their game.

Emmi Sandoval ’16 completing a touchdown on Saturday.  John Brady
Emmi Sandoval ’16 completing a touchdown on Saturday.
John Brady

“I think Sam Poulos [‘16] played a pretty good game at the quarterback position. Any time you’re going to throw for four touchdowns, that’s pretty great. All our senior receivers did a nice job. Emmi Sandoval , Greg Ruzich  and Henry Cummings [all ’16] all had good games,” Pedersen said. “Defensively, we’re pretty young so we’re still relying on our seniors out there and those were Barrett Morrissette and Edward Hardman [ both ’16] and they both did a really good job at the linebacker spots.”

Overall, it was a well-played game but there is always room for growth.

“We had the one turnover and the one time in the red zone where we didn’t score,” Pedersen said. “We did a pretty good job capitalizing on their two turnovers but they got a score off of one of our turnovers and that was a key turning point in the game.”

While the team’s overall play was solid there were a couple of key plays towards the end of the game that made a difference.

“We gave up a couple of big plays that hurt us in the end. We just need to fix the mistakes made and get better,” said Ryan Slager ’19 said. 

As always, preparation is key. Because last weekend was the first game of the season, it was especially important to be geared up for it in the right way.

“The preparation was nice, because we had a fortnight leading into this game. That gave us a little extra time but the major thing for us is just making sure that our guys stay healthy as we head into every competition,” Peterson said.

The team hosts Luther College at 1 p.m. this Saturday, Sept. 19, and Pedersen thinks the team is ready for the test.      “Luther’s going to be big, strong, physical run at your guys and that’s not necessarily the strength of our defense,” he said. “So we’ve got to come up with some pretty creative schemes to try and stop their rushing attack. Hopefully, we’ll be able to have some success with running and throwing against them.”

Despite the loss, Polous is optimistic because of just how good he thinks the Pioneers are this year and sees the chance for a breakout season.

“The past couple of years we were pretty close to having a breakout season, and I think that’s our goal for this year,” Polous said.

With a long season ahead, Pedersen stresses that the Pioneers need to avoid getting injured as they do not have any key backup players on the roster.

“The big key for us is to just stay healthy,” Pedersen said. “Our guys have to stay healthy and play the whole game. We got that out of them last weekend so that’s exciting. We’ve got to keep that and make sure that we practice in such a way that we’re as healthy as possible come Saturday.”

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