Football Looks to Bounce Back in New Season


Photo courtesy of OC Athletics

Senior wide receiver Corey Fussinger gets set in a matchup against the College of Wooster Fighting Scots in 2016.

Julie Schreiber, Sports Editor

After a season in which Yeomen football failed to record a single win, the 53 members of the team have put everything else aside to focus on their sport. Nearly every morning from Aug. 11 to the start of classes, the sizable squad has been obsessed. During preseason hey woke up each morning for team practices, weightlifts, position meetings, coaching meetings, and film sessions, only breaking for meals. Each evening, they went to sleep only to do it all again the next morning.

“From 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. every day, it was all football,” sophomore running back Melvin Briggs said. “As a team, we really embraced our saying of ‘No BCD’ — no blaming, no complaining, no defending — and just attacked every challenge in front of us.”

As the team eagerly awaits their first game, they do everything they can to sharpen themselves physically and mentally. According to senior team captain and defensive lineman Tony Allen, this includes spontaneous bonding activities, as well as traditional practice.

“We’re looking to make big turnarounds from past years, and we’re done waiting,” Allen said. “All the different position groups are hanging out and the team feels really bonded this year.”

One encouraging sign for the team is that it capped off its preseason camp with a 21–0 victory over the Quakers of Earlham College last Saturday. The competition between the two programs included a scrimmage and a series of scripted game-like simulations, all of which the Yeomen won “quite easily, and performed up to expectations,” according to Robbie Matey, Oberlin’s offensive coordinator and quarterback coach.

“We showed lots of strength both mentally and physically on Saturday, and it was a really promising way to end preseason and transition into regular-season competition,” Matey said. “We’re really excited to see where they can take the team this year.”

However, according to Briggs, there is still much more work to be done. He thinks there is still always room for improvement, especially in such a crucial season.

“There were many small details that we needed to pay more attention to, like limiting penalties,” Briggs said. “But we also demonstrated lots of consistency running the ball, gaining yards and holding down the defense.”

The challenge now will be to use the Earlham scrimmage as momentum for the season. A disheartening 2016 season was softened by the knowledge that many of this year’s returning players will try to build on the progress they did make last season amid the losses.

One of the keys to making this happen will be the presence of returnee Zach Taylor, a sophomore quarterback and a co-captain. He is coming off a near record-breaking freshman season in which he threw for 1,866 yards and 12 passes.

“We’re really excited for Zach to grow as a leader on the field and within the team, and to put his teammates in positions to make plays,” Matey said.

Other featured returnees include junior wide receiver Robby Reinheimer, who finished the 2016 season with 462 yards and 3 touchdowns; senior defensive back Bennett Jackson, who finished 2016 with 74 stops and 3 interceptions; and senior offensive lineman Avery McThompson, who begins his third consecutive year as a co-captain. According to Briggs, the team also anticipates major contributions from the Yeomen first-years.

“They bring fresh legs and a desire to make an immediate impact and bring versatility to Oberlin football,” he said.

Now all the Yeomen have to do is tie it all together and win some games. The first test comes this Saturday at 1 p.m. at Bailey Field, when Oberlin will look to beat Kalamazoo College, who bested them 36–29 on the road early last season. While Matey has been excited by everything he has seen so far, a win is the only real payoff this Yeomen team can get.

“We not only want to, but we expect to see great, relentless effort across the board in all phases of the game,” Matey said.