Story by Emily Gregor
“It’s going to be an incredibly difficult thing for anyone to do,” said head coach Chris Creighton. “If we play consistently, then we will have a chance.”
Senior Andy Rice is filling the record-setting shoes of former quarterback Mike Piatkowski. Last season, Rice, as a reserve, completed 4-of-9 passes, playing in wins against Campbell, San Diego, Valparaiso and Butler.
“Things Mike (Piatkowski) did well are things that Andy (Rice) does well,” said fifth-year senior wide receiver Nick Rosa. “When Andy stepped in for Mike against San Diego last year it was like there was no change.”
Rice is nothing but excited for the opportunity and looks forward to the responsibility he will hold.
“I think I do a good job at seeing the defense and choosing the right play, you know, seeing football cues.”
At running back, Gary Scott aims to keep doing what he’s been doing for the past two years: scoring touchdowns. Last year alone, Scott scored eight touchdowns rushing.
“Doing whatever it takes to get it in, no matter what, it has to be done,” Scott said.
Creighton believes the offensive line “dictates the morale of the team.”
“If the offensive line has a good dynamic, the team will do better,” he said. “They are just going to have to have great communication.”
For the defensive line, Creighton knows the Bulldogs are going to have to work together well to make sure the opposition doesn’t find a way through the formation.
Linebackers senior Travis Merritt and junior John Hugunin bring the experience the team needs for a strong season.
“We know what’s at stake,” Hugunin said. “There’s a lot at stake this year, and that’s motivating us.”
Last year, Hugunin led the team with 99 tackles, 37 solo, six tackles for loss and two sacks in addition to being named a 2013 preseason all-PFL selection.
Merritt brings a lot to the table as well. In the 2012 season, he held the second highest number of tackles on the team with 98 tackles, 42 solo, 5.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, an interception and a forced fumble. He also hit a career high of 14 tackles when the team faced Morehead State.
With that being said, tonight, the Bulldogs are facing off against Grandview, who ended the season last year with a record of 8-3, and it could go either way.
“Grandview, they’re really good,” Creighton said. “[Tonight] we could win or we could lose.”
For the rest of the season, the team is planning on taking it one day at a time and focusing on each game separately with every won game getting them one step closer to winning the PFL championship.
In addition to the usual pressures the Bulldogs are facing this season, there’s a new catch: if they win again this year, it will earn them a spot in the playoffs, culminating in the Football Championship Subdivision national championship game in Frisco, Texas, this January.
“If we do well this year, it will be because of our team,” Hugunin said.