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Football brings home first win of the season

Contributed by Ted Schultz
Grinnell football playing against Ripon College on Sept. 9.

Grinnell football secured their first win of the season with a comeback victory against Beloit College in the second half of their Sept. 16 game. Although the team struggled in the first half, they came back with a strong force that led them to score 27 points in the second half, ending the game 33-22. 

The team’s win brought their win-loss record to 1-2 overall and 1-1 in the Midwest Conference. Last year, the team ended their season with a .250 record, 1 win for every four games played. In 2021, they held a record of .200 across all games and .222 in conference matchups.  

“It was an amazing moment,” CJ Readon `27, running back, said when describing the win. “Seeing that scoreboard at the end of the game really put a smile on everyone’s face and gave us that hope we needed to keep pushing throughout the season.” 

Readon also scored his first collegiate touchdown during the first half of the game. 

“It felt amazing,” he said. “It was seven to six when we scored, so I wasn’t too excited about it. But after the game, it felt amazing telling my parents that I was able to score a college touchdown.”

Ty Jones `26, linebacker, said that last season, the team “had talent for sure, but we didn’t have the grit.” 

It felt amazing. It was seven to six when we scored, so I wasn’t too excited about it. But after the game, it felt amazing telling my parents that I was able to score a college touchdown.

— CJ Readon `27

“Last year, if you came out spanked in the first half, you were not coming back in the second half,” Jones said. “So it was really nice to see that at the start, that we have that spirit and we have that talent. Everyone is willing to put their heads down and start working.” 

The increased drive of the football team coincides with the coaching staff’s efforts to build up the team’s roster. 

According to Brent Barnes, head football coach, in 2019, the team was forced to cancel the last two-thirds of their season because they did not have enough players. Compared to other colleges in the Midwest Conference, who have around an average of 70 to 100 players, Grinnell’s roster is quite small. Barnes said this year the team has 60 players, the highest in the history of the program. 

“We deliberately keep our rosters smaller than other schools because we want to develop kids,” Barnes said. “If you come here, you’re gonna have a real opportunity to play.” 

Due to the academic focus of Grinnell College, football players recruited for the team must meet the academic standards required by the College. Although it may be tougher to find as many players to fill the roster, Barnes said that unlike larger schools, the 19 first-year athletes on the team were able to see “valuable time” on the field during the first three games of the season.

“I think coach Barnes has done a great job of lighting a fire under our feet,” Andrew Kozhaya `25, center, defensive line and Student Athlete Mentor, said. “He makes sure everyone’s flying around on defense, getting the ball as fast as they can.” 

In terms of their goals for the season, it was pretty clear that the main thing on both the athletes and the coaches mind is winning. 

“We know we are much better than we have been in the last five years, maybe longer,” Barnes said. “Now it’s can we translate that to more success on the field as we continue through the season. It’s still a work in progress.” 

Readon’s goal for the season is to “finish with a winning record and a chance to make playoffs.”

In terms of strategy to maintain their momentum, Barnes said they will keep it simple. 

“Our goal is always to out-execute teams. We want to run our stuff better than you try to defend it or try to score against it,” he said. 

The team will have another chance to show their strength at their next game against Lawrence University this upcoming Saturday, Sept. 30 on the Rosenbloom Field at Grinnell. 

Marcy Cassidy-Mapp contributed reporting.

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About the Contributor
Claire Giannosa
Claire Giannosa, Staff Writer

Claire Giannosa is a second-year from New York City studying English and Anthropology at Grinnell. In her free time, she loves reading and writing fantasy books and going on sunset walks with friends. Besides studying, leading Creative Writing Club, and S&B work she can usually be found on Mac Field playing ultimate frisbee.

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    MagicOct 1, 2023 at 8:51 pm

    Let’s go Grinnell! Let’s go CJ ???