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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
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College Football exceeds expectations at start of the season

Photo by Helena Gruensteidl.
Photo by Helena Gruensteidl.

By Riley Murphy

Last weekend Pioneer Football defeated Trinity Bible in a 15-6 away game, making for the first Grinnell football win in almost two years. The team hopes to keep up this change of pace and continue to win games.

“Everyone is relieved and excited, but at the same time hungry for more,” said running back and captain Carson Dunn ’18.

Last season Grinnell football did not win any games. Going into the second game of the 2017-2018 school year, the players knew that this was the opportunity to break their losing streak. Quarterback Tony Bergida ’18 was particularly motivated by the team’s close loss last season.

“We came into this week with a lot of focus because we know Trinity Bible was our closest game last year, so we knew that this was a game that we were supposed to win. For a lot of us guys, having played last year when we didn’t win, this was a way for us to make up for last year,” Bergida said.

For the first half of the game last weekend, the Pioneers could not secure a place on the scoreboard. While the defense was preventing Trinity Bible from scoring too many points, the offensive line was struggling to score.

“Defense held them to six points, which is really good,” Dunn said.

The coaches were also impressed with the defense in the first half, and considered their persistence to be one of the team’s major strengths.

“One of the best parts of Saturday’s win was that it was a total team effort.  The defense played well all game, and kept us in it early,” said Head Coach Jeff Pedersen.

At halftime Grinnell was down six to nothing, which made victory seem far out of reach. The Pioneers have had past difficulties persisting in the face of adversity, causing some worry for the team.

“The important part is coming back from playing bad. That was one of our issues last year, that we would get down on ourselves,” Dunn said.

But this Saturday the team did not lose hope, and instead worked together to turn the game around. Team captain Dunn encouraged the team to work harder in the second half, even when their work was not yet recognized on the scoreboard.

“We were down at halftime. We were down six to nothing, the offense was not playing well, and at halftime Carson [Dunn] and some other guys sort of rallied the troops. We didn’t get on each other’s backs, we worked through it together and as a team unit. Our offensive line and Carson really did an awesome job,” Bergida explained.

After halftime the team’s luck changed, particularly because of the team’s cooperation in concert with some individually encouraging plays. During the third quarter, linebacker Hassan Thompson ’19 secured an opportunity for the Pioneers.

“Then Hassan Thompson blocked a punt and got it into the end zone, so we got a safety. Offense got pretty excited, and since they were getting us points we had to put something up. We scored pretty much right away. We marched down the field and got a touchdown,” Dunn recounted.

For Bergida, the safety was the most pivotal event in the game.

“That to me was the turning point. We had built up some plays on offense leading up to that point. The defense played a phenomenal, stellar game the entire time. So it was that spark by the defense that really put us in the position offensively to take that lead and to take the game,” Bergida said.

The Pioneers went on to score two more touchdowns, and with a fourth-quarter interception by defensive back Vinny Pavoni ’19, the victory was fully secured.

The team celebrated their victory with a formation that many students hadn’t experienced before, an exciting moment for the coaches and players both.

“It felt great. We went to victory formation, and that was the first time for me here in a Pioneer uniform. And it’s an incredible feeling, I will remember it for a long, long time,” Bergida said.

“It’s really big — for more than half our team this is their first win,” Dunn said.

For the team, this win removed a massive burden that players had been carrying for almost two years. While the team is excited, they are still looking to improve.

“To be honest, we made a lot of mistakes on Saturday. We had four turnovers, and turnover battle is usually one of the biggest battles in football, and we clearly lost it. But we still won the game, so there are a lot of mistakes we can fix and make better, and if we do those right, then we’ll have a good team for the rest of the year,” Dunn reflected.

“We are looking to continue to improve throughout the season. We hope our best game of the season will be our last. We have a difficult three-game stretch coming up, but we’re going to attack it with all we’ve got,” Pedersen said.

With eight games remaining in the season, the team is looking to move forward from this win and get even better, this time with even more hope for the future of the team. For Bergida, this win only proves what the team already knew, which is that they can win and they will win in the future.

“This win gives us some confidence, it puts us in the right direction, it lets us know how we need to compete and that we’re capable of winning games.”



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